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Poverty and Terrorism: A Hypothesis in Search of Evidence

Poverty and Terrorism: A Hypothesis in Search of Evidence


Poverty poses a serious threat to human life. It is responsible for an estimated one-third of all deaths each year worldwide. Roughly fifty thousand people die from poverty-related causes every day, and poverty has killed an estimated 270 million people since 1990, more than double the total casualties suffered by all sides during World Wars I and II. Poverty also places a heavy toll on international security and political order. Poverty, unemployment, and income inequality have contributed to higher violent crime rates worldwide. Unequal distribution of land and unequal access to material resources are key ingredients of civil wars, armed ethnic and sectarian conflicts, and riots. Poverty and loss of livelihood help armed rebel movements and insurgencies with their recruitment efforts. Economic distress as a result of poverty contributes to military coups, regime collapse, and the onset of nondemocratic rule. Poverty also breeds social upheavals that produce refugees and illegal migrants, both of which have been linked to violence and armed conflict in the areas to which they migrate.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Piazza, James A. 2009. "Poverty and Terrorism: A Hypothesis in Search of Evidence." In Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Conflicting Perspectives on Causes, Contexts, and Responses, ed. Stuart Gottlieb. Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 38-51. https://books.google.com/books?id=lYC1BQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

START Author(s): 
James A. Piazza
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