Human Capital, Productivity, Terrorism

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“Attack Assignments in Terror Organizations and the Productivity¬† of Suicide Bombers” NBER Working Paper No. W12910
Harvard University – Department of Economics,
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
The RAND Corporation – Labor and Population
Studies, Princeton University – Department of
Economics, RAND Corporation
Full Text:
ABSTRACT: This paper studies the relation between human capital of suicide bombers and outcomes of their suicide attacks. We argue that human capital is an important factor in the production of terrorism, and that if terrorists behave rationally we should observe that more able suicide bombers are assigned to more important targets. We use a unique data set detailing the
biographies of Palestinian suicide bombers, the targets they attack, and the number of people that they kill and injure to validate the theoretical predictions and estimate the returns to
human capital in suicide bombing. Our empirical analysis suggests that older and more educated suicide bombers are being assigned by their terror organization to more important targets. We find that more educated and older suicide bombers are less likely tonfail in their mission, and are more likely to cause increased casualties when they attack.


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