Do The Unemployed Turn To Insurgency?

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 27 2012 @ 6:47pm

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No, according to a study in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines over the last decade:

Higher unemployment rates correlated with less political violence overall. In Iraq, for example, a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate dovetailed with 0.74 fewer acts of insurgent activity per 1,000 people.

How could this be? [Economist Eli Berman] and his colleagues offer several explanations. One is that insurgents are prompted to act when the economy is doing well, because the resources and land that insurgents want to seize are more valuable. Another theory posits that when unemployment is high, governments find more willing sellers of intelligence about insurgency efforts. Still another theory asserts a different kind of causality: The checkpoints and other security measures that suppress insurgent violence also hamper local economies, driving up unemployment.

(Photo: An Iraqi policeman guards a checkpoint in Baghdad on December 13, 2011. By Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images.)