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Communications Technology and Terrorism

Rafat Mahmood and Michael Jetter ()

No 6995, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

Abstract: By facilitating the flow of information in society, communications technology (CT; e.g., newspapers, radio, television, the internet) can help terrorists to (i) spread their message, (ii) recruit followers, and (iii) coordinate among group members. However, CT also facilitates monitoring and arresting terrorists. This paper formulates the hypothesis that a society’s level of CT is systematically related to terrorism. We introduce a simple theoretical framework, suggesting that terrorism first becomes more attractive with a rise in CT, but then decreases, following an inverted U-shape. Accessing data for 199 countries from 1970-2014, we find evidence for these predictions: Terrorism peaks at intermediate ranges of CT and corresponding magnitudes are sizeable. Our estimations control for a range of potentially confounding factors, as well as country- and year-fixed effects. Results are consistent throughout a battery of robustness checks and placebo regressions. Finally, we find no evidence of a potential reporting bias explaining our findings.

Keywords: communications technology; GTD; information flows; terrorism; panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 D83 L82 L86 L96 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ict and nep-pay
Date: 2018
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