Youth unemployment and terrorism in the MENAP (Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) region

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Publication Date

January 2018


This paper builds on existing research investigating the root causes of terrorism by considering youth unemployment as a measure of economic deprivation. In particular, the study focuses on terrorism in Middle Eastern and North African (MENAP) countries and features terrorism incident count data for the period 1998-2012 using negative binomial regression models. In our exogenous model, we find that while youth unemployment tends to increase domestic terrorism, it does not have any significant effect on transnational terrorism. Given concerns about endogeneity of youth unemployment in these models, we use two kinds of corrections- instrumental variables and lagged variables. We control for endogeneity by using military expenditure, under-five mortality rate and foreign direct investment as instruments. We are not able to reject the null hypothesis that youth unemployment is exogenous. Using lagged variables, we find a similar result as noted in the exogenous specifications with regard to the effect of youth unemployment on domestic and transnational terrorism. We also find evidence that domestic terrorism tends to have a positive association with press freedom, religious and linguistic fractionalization, and area of the country. Transnational terrorism has a positive association with the quality of democracy and a negative association with political stability and regulatory quality. The amount of natural resources tends to be negatively associated with domestic terrorism and positively associated with transnational terrorism.

Journal Title

Socio-Economic Planning Sciences



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