Aid to Education and Terrorism: Exploring Unintended Consequences
McGrath, Kevin Patrick
Terrorism has proven itself to be one of the most tenacious threats of the modern world, in part because it is difficult to predict and because its root causes are poorly understood. In spite of the popular conception of the terrorist as an insane, impoverished radical, political scientists suggest that terrorists are typically established, educated, and well-off. Economists, operating from a macroeconomic perspective, suggest that terrorism occurs in countries where opportunities are few, incomes are extremely unequal, and political systems are closed - in short, when there are few educated, middle-class elites. This contradiction is problematic, especially for those who seek to undermine terrorism through nation-building and international development. If terrorism is perpetrated by educated elites, then do we risk creating more terrorists when we improve the educational systems of impoverished societies? Or does a broader middle class create socialization effects that de-radicalize potential terrorists? Answering these questions has important implications for development funding, counter-terrorism, and international stability and security. In this thesis, I investigate this relationship empirically using time- and country-fixed effects panel regressions. My results suggest a negative relationship between terrorism and educational aid, but are not methodologically strong enough to posit a causal relationship.
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