Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mean Streets: Kids' verbal skills drop in bad neighborhoods

By Bruce Bower

You can take a child out of a severely disadvantaged neighborhood and move to a nicer part of town, but you can't always take a bad neighborhood's harmful effects on verbal development out of the child. That's the implication of a new, long-term study of children from various Chicago neighborhoods. Kids living in the most disadvantaged communities displayed marked declines in age-appropriate verbal ability over a 7-year span, even after moving to better areas, reports a team led by Harvard University sociologist Robert J. Sampson.

On average, children who at some point lived in neighborhoods characterized by "concentrated disadvantage" exhibited decreases of 4 IQ points on later standardized tests of vocabulary and reading skills. Comparable verbal losses occur when a child misses 1 year of school. Concentrated disadvantage consists of a high rate of welfare recipients, high levels of poverty and unemployment, racial segregation, and large numbers of female-headed households and children per household.

Exposure to concentrated disadvantage exerted harsher verbal effects on the youngest kids, the researchers say. "Taking steps to invest in neighborhoods directly, by creating safe public spaces and quality learning environments for children, is likely a cost-effective way to mitigate the harmful consequences of concentrated disadvantage," Sampson says. The new findings will appear in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sampson's group studied 2,226 children, ages 6 to 12, living in poor, middle-class, and upper-class sections of Chicago. Kids and their parents or caretakers were tracked from 1995 through 2002. In that time, about half of the participants moved from one Chicago neighborhood to another or to other parts of the United States.

Interviews with children and caretakers occurred at the study's start and twice more, every 2 to 3 years. At each interview, the children completed a vocabulary and reading test. The researchers focused on the 772 African-American children in the study. Almost one-third of the black children lived in areas of concentrated disadvantage in 1995, compared with virtually no white or Hispanic children.

About 42 percent of the black children living in the worst neighborhoods in 1995 moved to a nondisadvantaged neighborhood later on. This group still showed a 4-point decline in verbal ability. Concentrated disadvantage undermines verbal development in numerous ways, Sampson suggests. These include the lack of safe public places to play with others and minimal exposure to academic English.

Economist Greg J. Duncan of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., agrees that neighborhood disadvantage worsens the reading skills of black children in Chicago. Yet in 2006, his team reported that—contrary to Sampson's results—6- to 10-year-old black children in families given vouchers to move to better neighborhoods scored higher on reading tests within 4 to 7 years. These results emerged in Chicago and Baltimore but not in three other cities.

Sampson's analysis neglects the possibility that if smarter caretakers move to better neighborhoods, then children who move with them will be brighter—for partly genetic reasons—than those left behind, notes Linda Gottfredson, an education professor at the University of Delaware in Newark. Further research needs to track verbal ability in siblings from the same families, where some are full biological siblings and others half or less, she suggests.

Reference:

Sampson, R.J., et al. In press. Durable effects of concentrated disadvantage on verbal ability among African-American children. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0710189104.


Science News, Vol. 172, No. 25/26, Dec. 22, 2007, p. 388.

Monday, December 24, 2007




The racist history the Democratic Party wants you to forget

By BRUCE BARTLETT

In his new book, "The Conscience of a Liberal," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman makes a strong case for his belief that the political success of the Republican Party and the conservative movement over the past 40 years has resulted largely from their co-optation of Southern racists that were the base of the Democratic Party until its embrace of civil rights in the 1960s. A key piece of evidence for Mr. Krugman is that Ronald Reagan gave his first speech after accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 near Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. In the course of this speech, Reagan said he supported "states' rights." Mr. Krugman says this was code declaring his secret sympathy for Southern racism.

Others, including Mr. Krugman's Times colleague David Brooks and Reagan biographer Lou Cannon, have come to Reagan's defense, denying that he was a racist or had any racist intent in his 1980 speech. That's fine but unlikely to change the minds of those like Mr. Krugman who are determined to smear the Republican Party with the charge of racism, and who are adept at finding racist code words like "law and order" by Republicans that are completely convincing to liberals and Democrats in support of this accusation, even though they are invisible to those with no political ax to grind.

However, if a single mention of states' rights 27 years ago is sufficient to damn the Republican Party for racism ever afterwards, what about the 200-year record of prominent Democrats who didn't bother with code words? They were openly and explicitly for slavery before the Civil War, supported lynching and "Jim Crow" laws after the war, and regularly defended segregation and white supremacy throughout most of the 20th century.

Following are some quotes from prominent Democrats largely drawn from my new book, "Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past." Even with the exclusion of all quotes that contain the N-word, it is clear that many of the Democratic Party's most important historical figures have long made statements that reduce Reagan's alleged transgression to a drop in the ocean. If we are going to hold him and his party accountable for a single mention of states' rights, then the party of those listed below is far more culpable in promoting and defending racism.



Blacks "are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both of body and mind."
--Thomas Jefferson, 1787
Co-founder of the Democratic Party (along with Andrew Jackson)
President, 1801-09
"I hold that the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding states between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good--a positive good."

--Sen. John C. Calhoun (D., S.C.), 1837
Vice President, 1825-32
His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol.
If blacks were given the right to vote, that would "place every splay-footed, bandy-shanked, hump-backed, thick-lipped, flat-nosed, woolly-headed, ebon-colored Negro in the country upon an equality with the poor white man."

--Rep. Andrew Johnson, (D., Tenn.), 1844
President, 1865-69
"Resolved, That the Democratic Party will resist all attempts at renewing, in Congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1852
Blacks are "a subordinate and inferior class of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race."

--Chief Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1856
Appointed Attorney General by Andrew Jackson in 1831
Appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Andrew Jackson in 1833
Appointed to the Supreme Court by Andrew Jackson in 1836
"Resolved, That claiming fellowship with, and desiring the co-operation of all who regard the preservation of the Union under the Constitution as the paramount issue--and repudiating all sectional parties and platforms concerning domestic slavery, which seek to embroil the States and incite to treason and armed resistance to law in the Territories; and whose avowed purposes, if consummated, must end in civil war and disunion, the American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles contained in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the 'slavery question' upon which the great national idea of the people of this whole country can repose in its determined conservatism of the Union--NON-INTERFERENCE BY CONGRESS WITH SLAVERY IN STATE AND TERRITORY, OR IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA" (emphasis in original).

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1856
"I hold that a Negro is not and never ought to be a citizen of the United States. I hold that this government was made on the white basis; made by the white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and should be administered by white men and none others."

--Sen. Stephen A. Douglas (D., Ill.), 1858
Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, 1860
"Resolved, That the enactments of the State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1860
"The Almighty has fixed the distinction of the races; the Almighty has made the black man inferior, and, sir, by no legislation, by no military power, can you wipe out this distinction."

--Rep. Fernando Wood (D., N.Y.), 1865
Mayor of New York City, 1855-58, 1860-62
"My fellow citizens, I have said that the contest before us was one for the restoration of our government; it is also one for the restoration of our race. It is to prevent the people of our race from being exiled from their homes--exiled from the government which they formed and created for themselves and for their children, and to prevent them from being driven out of the country or trodden under foot by an inferior and barbarous race."

--Francis P. Blair Jr., accepting the Democratic nomination for Vice President, 1868
Democratic Senator from Missouri, 1869-72His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol.
"Instead of restoring the Union, it [the Republican Party] has, so far as in its power, dissolved it, and subjected ten states, in time of profound peace, to military despotism and Negro supremacy."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1868
"While the tendency of the white race is upward, the tendency of the colored race is downward."

--Sen. Thomas Hendricks (D., Ind.), 1869
Democratic nominee for Vice President, 1876
Vice President, 1885
"We, the delegates of the Democratic party of the United States . . . demand such modification of the treaty with the Chinese Empire, or such legislation within constitutional limitations, as shall prevent further importation or immigration of the Mongolian race."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1876
"No more Chinese immigration, except for travel, education, and foreign commerce, and that even carefully guarded."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1880
"American civilization demands that against the immigration or importation of Mongolians to these shores our gates be closed."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1884
"We favor the continuance and strict enforcement of the Chinese exclusion law, and its application to the same classes of all Asiatic races."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1900
"The repeal of the fifteenth amendment, one of the greatest blunders and therefore one of the greatest crimes in political history, is a consummation to be devoutly wished for."

--Rep. John Sharpe Williams (D., Miss.), 1903
House Minority Leader, 1903-08
"Republicanism means Negro equality, while the Democratic Party means that the white man is supreme. That is why we Southerners are all Democrats."

--Sen. Ben Tillman (D., S.C.), 1906
Chairman, Committee on Naval Affairs, 1913-19
"We are opposed to the admission of Asiatic immigrants who can not be amalgamated with our population, or whose presence among us would raise a race issue and involve us in diplomatic controversies with Oriental powers."

--Platform of the Democratic Party, 1908
"I am opposed to the practice of having colored policemen in the District [of Columbia]. It is a source of danger by constantly engendering racial friction, and is offensive to thousands of Southern white people who make their homes here."

--Sen. Hoke Smith (D., Ga.), 1912
Appointed Secretary of the Interior by Grover Cleveland in 1893
"The South is serious with regard to its attitude to the Negro in politics. The South understands this subject, and its policy is unalterable and uncompromising. We desire no concessions. We seek no sops. We grasp no shadows on this subject. We take no risks. We abhor a Northern policy of catering to the Negro in politics just as we abhor a Northern policy of social equality."

--Josephus Daniels, editor, Raleigh News & Observer, 1912
Appointed Secretary of the Navy by Woodrow Wilson in 1913
Appointed Ambassador to Mexico by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933
USS Josephus Daniels named for him by the Johnson Administration in 1965
"The Negro as a race, in all the ages of the world, has never shown sustained power of self-development. He is not endowed with the creative faculty. . . . He has never created for himself any civilization. . . . He has never had any civilization except that which has been inculcated by a superior race. And it is a lamentable fact that his civilization lasts only so long as he is in the hands of the white man who inculcates it. When left to himself he has universally gone back to the barbarism of the jungle."

--Sen. James Vardaman (D., Miss.), 1914
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources, 1913-19
"This is a white man's country, and will always remain a white man's country."

--Rep. James F. Byrnes (D., S.C.), 1919
Appointed to the Supreme Court by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941
Appointed Secretary of State by Harry S. Truman in 1945
"Slavery among the whites was an improvement over independence in Africa. The very progress that the blacks have made, when--and only when--brought into contact with the whites, ought to be a sufficient argument in support of white supremacy--it ought to be sufficient to convince even the blacks themselves."

--William Jennings Bryan, 1923
Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, 1896, 1900 and 1908
Appointed Secretary of State by Woodrow Wilson in 1913
His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol.
"Anyone who has traveled to the Far East knows that the mingling of Asiatic blood with European or American blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results. . . . The argument works both ways. I know a great many cultivated, highly educated and delightful Japanese. They have all told me that they would feel the same repugnance and objection to have thousands of Americans settle in Japan and intermarry with the Japanese as I would feel in having large numbers of Japanese coming over here and intermarry with the American population. In this question, then, of Japanese exclusion from the United States it is necessary only to advance the true reason--the undesirability of mixing the blood of the two peoples. . . . The Japanese people and the American people are both opposed to intermarriage of the two races--there can be no quarrel there."

--Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1925
President, 1933-45
"This passport which you have given me is a symbol to me of the passport which you have given me before. I do not feel that it would be out of place to state to you here on this occasion that I know that without the support of the members of this organization I would not have been called, even by my enemies, the 'Junior Senator from Alabama.' "

--Hugo Black, accepting a life membership in the Ku Klux Klan upon his election to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Alabama, 1926
Appointed to the Supreme Court by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937
"Mr. President, the crime of lynching . . . is not of sufficient importance to justify this legislation."

--Sen. Claude Pepper (D., Fla.), 1938
Spoken while engaged in a six-hour speech against the antilynching bill
"I am a former Kleagle [recruiter] of the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh County. . . . The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia. It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state in the union."

--Robert C. Byrd, 1946
Democratic Senator from West Virginia, 1959-present
Senate Majority Leader, 1977-80 and 1987-88
Senate President Pro Tempore, 1989-95, 2001-03, 2007-present
His portrait stands in the U.S. Capitol.
President Truman's civil rights program "is a farce and a sham--an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted against the so-called poll tax repeal bill. . .. I have voted against the so-called anti-lynching bill."

--Rep. Lyndon B. Johnson (D., Texas), 1948
U.S. Senator, 1949-61
Senate Majority Leader, 1955-61
President, 1963-69
"There is no warrant for the curious notion that Christianity favors the involuntary commingling of the races in social institutions. Although He knew both Jews and Samaritans and the relations existing between them, Christ did not advocate that courts or legislative bodies should compel them to mix socially against their will."

--Sen. Sam Ervin (D., N.C.), 1955
Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, 1971-75
"The decline and fall of the Roman empire came after years of intermarriage with other races. Spain was toppled as a world power as a result of the amalgamation of the races. . . . Certainly history shows that nations composed of a mongrel race lose their strength and become weak, lazy and indifferent."

--Herman E. Talmadge, 1955
Democratic Senator from Georgia, 1957-81
Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, 1971-81
"These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again."

--Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D., Texas), 1957
"I have never seen very many white people who felt they were being imposed upon or being subjected to any second-class citizenship if they were directed to a waiting room or to any other public facility to wait or to eat with other white people. Only the Negroes, of all the races which are in this land, publicly proclaim they are being mistreated, imposed upon, and declared second-class citizens because they must go to public facilities with members of their own race."

--Sen. Richard B. Russell Jr. (D., Ga.), 1961
The Russell Senate Office Building is named for him.
"I did not lie awake at night worrying about the problems of Negroes."

--Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, 1961
Kennedy later authorized wiretapping the phones and bugging the hotel rooms of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I'm not going to use the federal government's authority deliberately to circumvent the natural inclination of people to live in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods. . . . I have nothing against a community that's made up of people who are Polish or Czechoslovakian or French-Canadian or blacks who are trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods."

--Jimmy Carter, 1976
President, 1977-81
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2002
"The Confederate Memorial has had a special place in my life for many years. . . . There were many, many times that I found myself drawn to this deeply inspiring memorial, to contemplate the sacrifices of others, several of whom were my ancestors, whose enormous suffering and collective gallantry are to this day still misunderstood by most Americans."

--James Webb, 1990
Now a Democratic Senator from Virginia
"Everybody likes to go to Geneva. I used to do it for the Law of the Sea conferences and you'd find these potentates from down in Africa, you know, rather than eating each other, they'd just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva."

--Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D., S.C.) 1993
Chairman, Commerce Committee, 1987-95 and 2001-03
Candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, 1984
"I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation."

--Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), 2004
Chairman, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, 2008
"You cannot go into a Dunkin' Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent."

"My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state has the eighth largest black population in the country. My state is anything [but] a Northeastern liberal state."

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African American [Barack Obama] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy."

"There's less than 1% of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4% or 5% that is, are minorities. What is it in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with."
Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., (D., Del.), 2006-07
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, 1987-95
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations
Candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, 2008


Bonus quote:
"It has of late become the custom of the men of the South to speak with entire candor of the settled and deliberate policy of suppressing the negro vote. They have been forced to choose between a policy of manifest injustice toward the blacks and the horrors of negro rule. They chose to disfranchise the negroes. That was manifestly the lesser of two evils. . . . The Republican Party committed a great public crime when it gave the right of suffrage to the blacks. . . . So long as the Fifteenth Amendment stands, the menace of the rule of the blacks will impend, and the safeguards against it must be maintained."

SOURCE


Saturday, December 15, 2007

What Makes a Terrorist

It’s not poverty and lack of education, according to economic research by Princeton’s ALAN KRUEGER. Look elsewhere

What Makes a TerroristIn the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, policymakers, scholars, and ordinary citizens asked a key question: What would make people willing to give up their lives to wreak mass destruction in a foreign land? In short, what makes a terrorist?

A popular explana­tion was that economic deprivation and a lack of education caused people to adopt extreme views and turn to terrorism. For example, in July 2005, after the bomb­ings of the London transit system, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “Ultimately what we now know, if we did not before, is that where there is extremism, fanaticism or acute and appalling forms of poverty in one continent, the conse­quences no longer stay fixed in that continent.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, King Abdullah of Jordan, Elie Wiesel, and terrorism experts like Jessica Stern of Harvard’s Kennedy School also argued that poverty or lack of education were significant causes of terrorism.

Even President George W. Bush, who was ini­tially reluctant to associate terrorism with poverty after September 11, eventually argued, “We fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror.” Laura Bush added, “A lasting victory in the war against terror depends on educating the world’s children.”

Despite these pronouncements, however, the available evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate educa­tion as important causes of support for terrorism or participation in terrorist activities. Such explana­tions have been embraced almost entirely on faith, not scientific evidence.

Why is an economist studying terrorism? I have two answers. First, participation in terrorism is just a special application of the economics of occupational choice. Some peo­ple choose to become doctors or lawyers, and others pursue careers in terrorism. Economics can help us understand why.

The second answer is that, together with Jörn-Steffen Pischke, now at the London School of Economics, I studied the outbreak of hate crimes against foreigners in Germany in the early 1990s. Through this work, I concluded that poor economic conditions do not seem to motivate people to par­ticipate in hate crimes.

The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre’s yield of cotton. He calculated the correla­tion coefficient between the two series at –0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower. A pair of psy­chologists at Yale, Carl Hovland and Robert Sears, cited Raper’s work in 1940 to argue that deprivation leads to aggres­sion. People take out their frustrations on others, the researchers hypothesized, when economic con­ditions are poor.

While this view seems intuitively plausible, the problem is that it lacks a strong empirical basis. In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi­tions and lynchings in Raper’s data.

Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal­ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi­tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added.

In 1997, Pischke and I, writing in the Journal of Human Resources, studied the incidence of crimes against foreigners across the 543 coun­ties in Germany in 1992 and 1993. We found that the unemployment rate, the level of wages, wage growth, and average education were all unrelated to the incidence of crimes against foreigners.

With evidence from hate crimes as a background, next turn to terrorism. Terrorism does not occur in a vacuum. So to start, I considered evidence from public opin­ion polls, which can help identify the values and views of those in communities from which terror­ism arises.

The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project conducted public opinion surveys in February 2004 in Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, involving about 1,000 respondents in each country. One of the questions asked was, “What about suicide bombing carried out against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq? Do you personally believe that this is justifiable or not justifiable?” Pew kindly provided me with tab­ulations of these data by respondents’ personal characteristics.

The clear finding was that people with a higher level of education are in general more likely to say that suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq are justified. I have also broken this pattern down by income level. There is no indication that people with higher incomes are less likely to say that sui­cide-bombing attacks are justified.

Another source of opinion data is the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headquar­tered in Ramallah. The center collects data in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One question, asked in December 2001 of 1,300 adults, addressed attitudes toward armed attacks on Israeli tar­gets. Options were “strongly support,” “support,” “oppose,” “strongly oppose,” or “no opinion.”

Support turned out to be stronger among those with a higher level of education. For exam­ple, while 26 percent of illiterates and 18 per­cent of those with only an elementary education opposed or strongly opposed armed attacks, the figure for those with a high school education was just 12 percent. The least supportive group turned out to be the unemployed, 74 percent of whom said they support or strongly back armed attacks. By comparison, the support level for merchants and professionals was 87 percent.

Related findings have been around for a long time. Daniel Lerner, a professor at MIT at the time, published a book in 1958 called The Passing of Traditional Society in which he collected and analyzed data on extremism in six Middle Eastern countries. He concluded that “the data obviate the conventional assumption that the extremists are simply the have-nots. Poverty prevails only among the apolitical masses.”

Finally, the Palestinian survey included ques­tions about whether people were optimistic for the future. Responses suggested that, just before the outbreak of the second intifada, the Palestinian people believed that the economic situation was improving—a judgment consistent with the fall­ing unemployment rate at the time. The intifada, then, did not appear to be following dashed expec­tations for future economic conditions.

Public opinion is one thing; actual participation in terrorism is another. There is striking anecdotal evidence from Nasra Hassan, a United Nations relief worker in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who described interviews with 250 militants and their associates who were involved in the Palestinian cause in the late 1990s. Hassan concluded that “none of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle class and, unless they were fugitives, held paying jobs. Two were the sons of millionaires.”

Claude Berrebi, now of the RAND Corporation’s Institute for Civil Justice, wrote his dissertation at Princeton on the characteristics of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who were involved in terrorist activities. For example, he compared suicide bombers to the whole male pop­ulation aged 16 to 50 and found that the suicide bombers were less than half as likely to come from families that were below the poverty line. In addi­tion, almost 60 percent of the suicide bombers had more than a high school education, compared with less than 15 percent of the general population.

Jitka Malecková and I performed a similar study of militant members of Hezbollah, a multifaceted organization in Lebanon that has been labeled a ter­rorist organization by the U.S. State Department. We were able to obtain information on the biogra­phies of 129 deceased shahids (martyrs) who had been honored in the group’s newsletter, “Al-Ahd.” We turned translations by Eli Hurvitz at Tel Aviv University into a data­set and then combined it with information on the Lebanese popu­lation from the 1996 Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs Housing Survey of 120,000 peo­ple aged 15 to 38.

These deceased mem­bers of Hezbollah had a lower poverty rate than the Lebanese population: 28 percent versus 33 percent. And Hezbollah members were better educated: 47 percent had a secondary or higher education ver­sus 38 percent of adult Lebanese.

This is also the case, apparently, with al-Qaeda. Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer, has written a book titled Understanding Terror Networks. He found that a high proportion of mem­bers of al-Qaeda were college educated (close to 35 percent) and drawn from skilled professions (almost 45 percent). Research on members of the Israeli extremist group, Gush Emunim, that Malecková and I conducted, also pointed in the same direc­tion. Perhaps most definitively, the Library of Congress produced a summary report for an advi­sory group to the CIA titled, “The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?” which also reached this conclusion—two years before 9/11.

Why are better educated, more advan­taged individuals more likely than others to join terrorist groups? I think of terrorism as a market, with a supply side and a demand side. Individuals, either in small groups or on their own, supply their services to terrorist organizations.

On the supply side, the economics of crime suggests that people with low opportunity costs will become involved in terrorism. Their costs of involvement are lower—that is, they sacrifice less because their prospects of living a rich life are less. In other domains of life, it is those with few oppor­tunities who are more likely to commit property crime and resort to suicide.

However, in the case of the supply of terrorists, while consideration of opportunity cost is not irrel­evant, it is outweighed by other factors, such as a commitment to the goals of the terrorist organi­zation and a desire to make a statement. Political involvement requires some understanding of the issues, and learning about those issues is a less costly endeavor for those who are better educated. I argue that better analogies than crime are vot­ing and political protest. Indeed, better educated, employed people are more likely to vote.

On the demand side, terrorist organizations want to succeed. The costs of failure are high. So the organizations select more able participants—which again points to those who are better educated and better off economically.

One of the conclusions from the work of Laurence Iannaccone—whose paper, “The Market for Martyrs,” is supported by my own research—is that it is very difficult to effect change on the supply side. People who are willing to sacrifice themselves for a cause have diverse motivations. Some are motivated by nationalism, some by religious fanati­cism, some by historical grievances, and so on. If we address one motivation and thus reduce one source on the supply side, there remain other motivations that will incite other people to terror.

That suggests to me that it makes sense to focus on the demand side, such as by degrading terrorist organizations’ financial and technical capabili­ties, and by vigorously protecting and promoting peaceful means of protest, so there is less demand for pursuing grievances through violent means. Policies intended to dampen the flow of people willing to join terrorist organizations, by contrast, strike me as less likely to succeed.

The evidence we have seen thus far does not foreclose the possibility that members of the elite become terrorists because they are outraged by the economic conditions of their countrymen. This is a more difficult hypothesis to test, but, it turns out, there is little empirical sup­port for it.

To investigate the role of societal factors, I assembled data on the country of origin and tar­get of hundreds of significant international terrorist attacks from 1997 to 2003, using infor­mation from the State Department. I found that many socioeconomic indicators—including illiteracy, infant mor­tality, and GDP per capita—are unrelated to whether people from one country become involved in terrorism. Indeed, if anything, measures of economic deprivation, at a country level, have the opposite effect from what the popular stereotype would predict: international terrorists are more likely to come from moderate-income countries than poor ones.

One set of factors that I examined did consis­tently raise the likelihood that people from a given country will participate in terrorism—namely, the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights. Using data from the Freedom House Index, for example, I found that countries with low levels of civil liberties are more likely to be the countries of origin of the perpetra­tors of terrorist attacks. In addition, terrorists tend to attack nearby targets. Even international terror­ism tends to be motivated by local concerns.

Additional support for these conclusions comes from research I conducted on the nationalities of foreign insurgents in Iraq. Specifically, I studied 311 combatants, representing 27 countries, who were captured in Iraq. Although the vast majority of insurgents are native Iraqis, motivated by domestic issues, foreigners are alleged to have been involved in several significant attacks. I looked at the char­acteristics of the countries insurgents came from, and, importantly, of the countries with no citizens captured in Iraq. It turned out that countries with a higher GDP per capita were actually more likely to have their citizens involved in the insurgency than were poorer countries.

Consistent with the work on international terrorist incidents, countries with fewer civil lib­erties and political rights were more likely to be the birthplaces of foreign insurgents. Distance also mattered, with most foreign insurgents com­ing from nearby nations. The model predicted that the largest number of insurgents—44 percent—would have emanated from Saudi Arabia, a nation not known for its protection of civil liberties but with a high GDP per capita.

The evidence suggests that terrorists care about influencing political outcomes. They are often motivated by geopolitical grievances. To under­stand who joins terrorist organizations, instead of asking who has a low salary and few opportunities, we should ask: Who holds strong political views and is confident enough to try to impose an extrem­ist vision by violent means? Most terrorists are not so desperately poor that they have nothing to live for. Instead, they are people who care so fervently about a cause that they are willing to die for it.

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