Alan B. Krueger: What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Root of Terrorism?
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Nasir, Muhammad
Pub Date: 03/22/2010
Publication: Name: Pakistan Development Review Publisher: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Reproduced with permission of the Publications Division, Pakistan Institute of Development Economies, Islamabad, Pakistan. ISSN: 0030-9729
Issue: Date: Spring, 2010 Source Volume: 49 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Root of Terrorism? (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Krueger, Alan B.
Accession Number: 238556933
Full Text: Alan B. Krueger: What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Root of Terrorism? Princeton University Press. 2007. 192 pages. Hardcover. US$ 24.95.

Terrorism has captured greater attention of the world since 9/11. Numerous studies have been conducted by social scientists in general and economists in particular on the determinants and consequences of terrorism. Conflicting conclusions of such studies makes it difficult to form appropriate anti terrorism policies. Moreover the intensive use of statistical analysis often makes it difficult for those unacquainted with sophisticated statistical techniques, to understand the message of these studies. This called for a volume which would convey the message of studies written in technical jargon to an ordinary reader. I believe the book "What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Root of Terrorism" has served the purpose in an embracing manner.

This book is based on the lectures delivered by Krueger at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in 2006. The book is organised into three sections. The first section deals with the characteristics of a terrorist as an individual; the second with socioeconomic and political conditions of the country to which the terrorist originally belongs, and the third is devoted to the consequence of terrorism. Krueger argues in the first section that, contrary to the common belief, the lack of education and economic deprivation in the form of poverty and low income are not the drivers of terrorism. Referring to many studies, including the one he did for Philistine, he rejects the hypothesis that illiteracy and economic deprivation of an individual induces him to be involved in terrorist activities. This perception is based more on faith than empirics, asserts Kruger. He substantiates the assertion with the fact that almost all of the terrorists involved in major attacks come from moderate-income countries rather than the poor ones. Nevertheless, he accepts that worse economic condition may force individuals to commit hate crimes; a theoretical justification of economic causes of terrorism on which the economists rely heavily.

In the second section of the book, Krueger examines the overall socioeconomic and political conditions of the country to which the terrorist traces his origin. He establishes that, even at the national level, the economic factors are not the reason for terrorism. Rather, it is the absence of political rights and civil liberties that could lead to terrorism--with freedom of speech curbed, opinions may find vent in violence. Krueger also considers religion as a factor explaining terrorism in Iraq.

Turning to the consequences of terrorism in the third section, Krueger highlights the fact that the consequences of terrorism are economic, social and physiological. His discussion of the economic consequences brings to fore the debate between Milton Friedman and Robert Barro on the bad and good consequences for an economy. Krueger, very truly, also points finger on the role of media in the enhancing the impact of terrorism. He suggests that the media sometimes serves the purpose of the terrorists by highlighting their objectives and throwing them into limelight.

The book is a thought provoking gift for those interested in the subject of 'Conflict', especially it enables researchers to start with a sound grasp of the issues in terrorism and political violence.
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