Does Poverty Cause Terrorism?

An understanding of the causes of terrorism is essential if an effective strategy is to be crafted to combat it. Drawing a false and unjustified connection between poverty and terrorism is potentially quite dangerous, as the international aid community may lose interest in providing support to developing nations when the imminent threat of terrorism recedes, much as support for development waned in the aftermath of the Cold War; and connecting foreign aid with terrorism risks the possibility of humiliating many people in less developed countries, who are implicitly told that they receive aid only to prevent them from committing acts of terror. Moreover, premising foreign aid on the threat of terrorism could create perverse incentives in which some groups are induced to engage in terrorism to increase their prospects of receiving aid. In our view, alleviating poverty is reason enough to pressure economically advanced countries to provide more aid than they are currently giving. Falsely connecting terrorism to poverty serves only to deflect attention from the real roots of terrorism. ( — Alan B. Krueger, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Jitka Malecková, associate professor at the Institute for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Charles University in Prague) The New Republic