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uni'wissen 02-2013_ENG

Günther Schulze and Krisztina Kis-Katos are investigating the economic causes of terrorism Is poverty a breeding ground for terrorism? Ul- rike Meinhof, guiding intellectual force of the Red Army Fraction (RAF), didn’t exactly come from the gutter, and the emblematic Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden hailed from a rich fam- ily in Saudi Arabia. All the same, former US pres- ident George W. Bush was convinced of this hypothesis: When he announced the “War on Terror” after the attacks on 11 September 2001, he didn’t just send troops to Iraq but also nearly doubled funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The as- sumption behind this stance is that those who fear for their economic survival will be more sus- ceptible to extremist agitation and thus more likely to be willing to place their own life on the line in a terrorist attack than those who don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. Accordingly, there will be less ter- rorism in a country whose citizens are financially stable. Well Off, Well Educated Prof. Dr. Günther Schulze and Dr. Krisztina Kis-Katos from the Institute of Economic Re- search of the University of Freiburg cannot con- firm this simple-sounding theory. Schulze, head of the Department of International Economic The Rich Lay Bombs Too by Verena Adt Policy, and his research assistant Kis-Katos have been conducting research on the causes of terrorism from an economic standpoint for the past several years. They have not been able to find a causal relationship between terrorism and economic living conditions in their empirical studies. “There is not more terrorism in poor countries than in rich ones,” says Kis-Katos. On the contrary: The number of terrorist acts in- creases with per capita income. In a joint study, the two researchers found out that most terror- ists do not come from impoverished countries. This finding is consistent with the results of em- pirical studies indicating that terrorists are better off and better educated than the majority of their compatriots. The team drew its findings from the Global Terrorism Database, according to Schulze “the most comprehensive database to be compiled on this topic to date.” It lists more than 104,000 “terrorist incidents” from 1970 to the present – in- cluding international attacks as well as the much more common acts committed by terrorists in their native country and aimed at their fellow citi- zens. Although international terrorist acts like the series of attacks on 11 September 2001 in the USA attract a lot of attention from the media, Schulze and Kis-Katos stress that around 85 Poverty is not the cause of terrorism – the Freiburg economists can back up this claim with statistics. Photo: Mopic/Fotolia Günther Schulze and Krisztina Kis-Katos are investigating the economic causes of terrorism The Rich Lay Bombs Too by Verena Adt 36