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Public sentiment in times of terror

Ashani Amarasinghe

Journal of Development Economics, 2023, vol. 162, issue C

Abstract: How do public sentiments towards the government change following terror attacks? The literature has traditionally answered this question using temporally aggregated voting data. This paper proposes an alternative, fine-grained approach to explore the short term dynamics underlying public sentiments. I first use high-frequency, media-reported event data to quantify PublicDiscontent, for 135 countries, over the period 2002–2020. Comparing the change in PublicDiscontent in country-months with successful terror attacks against country-months with failed terror attacks, I find that the average level of PublicDiscontent increases by approximately 11% in the 11 months following a successful terror attack. Information on government capability, political institutions and exposure to violence are incorporated in the response. Interestingly, characteristics of the national leader, such as gender, age, length of tenure and military experience, also affect the public response. Findings highlight short term dynamics of public sentiments as a critical component in shaping the citizen-state relationship.

Keywords: Terrorism; Public discontent; Government; Leader (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 H11 H41 H56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2023.103058

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