Conflict and Migration in MENA

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Sheraton Grand Chicago, Grant Park
Hosted By: Middle East Economic Association
  • Chair: Edward Sayre, University of Southern Mississippi

Relative Deprivation and Radicalization: Evidence from MENA countries

Kartika Bhatia
,
World Bank
Hafez Ghanem
,
World Bank and Brookings Institution

Abstract

This paper explores the role of ‘relative deprivation’ as a key driver of the support (or demand) for terrorism in MENA region. For us, relative deprivation means the absence of opportunities relative to expectations, as defined by Omer Taspinar or specifically frustrated expectations of individuals for economic improvement and social mobility. To test our hypothesis, we use Gallup World Poll data for six MENA countries - Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen for 2009 and 2011. The Gallup World Poll has information on individual’s support for attack on World Trade Center on Sep 11, 2001 and support for attacks on civilians. This dataset has been little used to provide evidence for demand for terrorism. Our findings show that ‘relative deprivation’ has a significant association with radicalization. Individuals who are secondary educated but unemployed or underemployed have the highest likelihood of supporting violent extremism. Tertiary educated unemployed or underemployed respondents are second at risk of becoming radicalized. We also find a concave relationship between household income and respondent’s support for violent extremism which is significant in most but not all specifications. Contrary to popular perception, individuals who consider religion to be an important part of their daily life are not significantly associated with supporting terrorism. The results remains significant even after controlling for individual’s political grievances, life satisfaction, social capital, community attachment and social network. We also check our ‘relative deprivation’ hypothesis with data from World Values Survey, Wave 6. The WVS results show self-employed secondary or tertiary educated people as being supportive of terrorism (defined as ‘justifying violence against other people’ in WVS).

Does Lack of Trust Foster Conflict?

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay
,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Khusrav Gaibulloev
,
American University of Sharjah
Javed Younas
,
American University of Sharjah

Abstract

"In a society based on organization and system, people form cooperation by trusting each other and no single individual or entity is self-sufficient. Trust is a requirement for running everyday affairs like commuting to office, eating outside, extending a loan, or casting vote for choosing representatives. Trust is either built or shattered through iterative process of learning about each other. Two strangers may either gradually develop trust or stop cooperating further. However, taking even a first step of approaching others can involve significant risks and vulnerabilities. This is especially so when people do not see themselves as one people because they are deeply divided on ethnic, linguistic and religious grounds. Some groups may control main productive resources such as fertile land, while others are excluded and even enslaved in the same society. Therefore, a widespread distrust can dissipate social structure and retard economic development by instigating conflict among groups.
This paper first constructs a game theory model, where agents face some costs of cooperation, extent of which are determined by both endogenous and exogenous factors. Trust breaks down if: (i) cooperation becomes expensive, and/or (ii) one agent earns premium from cheating. The aggrieved agent may decide to pick up arms if doing so is less costly than expending resources in resolving disputes through peaceful mediation. We test these predictions using the World Value Survey data for measuring trust and the Uppsala’s data for capturing the length and intensity of a conflict. Our empirical analysis is focused on African countries, which have historically been marred in conflicts. One main challenge for identifying the casual impact is the endogeneity issue as conflicts can break down trust. We use slave trade as an instrument for trust. It is well known in the literature that most of the slave trade in Africa was due to pecuniary benefits (e.g., Nunn, 2008, 2007). There were several ways through which people who lived in Africa were sold to the European sailors as slaves, such as one tribe used to capture members of another, kidnaped by criminal, captured in wars and some were even betrayed by own friends and family members such as uncles and cousins. Another potential instrument for trust is the land distance of a country to the coastline. Longer distance implies that one could repose more trust as transporting cost of selling to the European sailors was higher.

Transmission of Norms: The Case of Return Migrants in Afghanistan

Maryam Naghsh Nejad
,
Institute for the Study of Labor

Abstract

The paper focusses on the effect of return Migration in Afghanistan

The Migration of Fear: An Analysis of Migration Choices of Syrian Refugees

Jeffrey Nugent
,
University of Southern California
Mehmet Balcilar
,
Eastern Mediterranean University

Abstract

As the refugee crisis does not only impact MENA countries, but also European countries, the driving forces behind migration are as more important than ever. The paper analyzes Migration choices of Syrian refugees.

The Democratic Transition in the MENA Region: A Tradeoff between Democracy and Terrorism?

Amyra Sahbi
,
German University of Administrative Sciences-Speyer
Rahel M. Schomaker
,
Cologne Business School and German Research Institute for Public Administration

Abstract

While democracy has been established and practiced in a majority of Europe and the western world, countries in the MENA region only recently started on a transition to democracy in the context in the so-called “Arab Spring”. There is an unresolved scientific debate about the relationship between democracy and terrorism. Our work aims to find a causal relation between democracy and terrorism that explains why terrorist attacks are targeting democratic or in-transition countries. Our research focuses on the MENA region, but – considering the overall theoretical background and the data applied – aims to come to conclusions that also may allow for general policy recommendations.<br />
The theoretical part starts by presenting different democratic transition theories. We also try to learn from the famous third wave of democratic transition and if it has any impact on the MENA region. Testing our hypotheses, we apply different multivariate empirical models to a newly developed data set (comprising data from the World Bank, UN, freedom house and Institute for Economics and Peace) covering 165 countries for the period between 1996 to 2013. Our main dependent variable comes from the Global Terrorism Index, while the independent variables comprise indicators that capture regime type by the Polity iv index, institutional quality, corruption, democratic participation etc.. <br />
The primary results show a significant positive relation between the regime type and the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). And a significant decreasing impact of the rule of law, voice and accountability and political stability on the GTI. The test of the interaction term between Corruption and regime type shows a significant decrease of the GTI.

Who Supports Violent Extremism in Developing Countries?

Youssouf Kiendrebeogo
,
World Bank
Elena Ianchovichina
,
World Bank

Abstract

What characteristics distinguish radicalized individuals, willing to justify the killing of innocent civilians, from others? We use a unique and comprehensive dataset, including 30,787 individuals from 27 developing countries around the world and a full-information maximum likelihood estimator to estimate a bivariate ordered probit for radicalization and subjective economic welfare. We find that the typical radicalized individual is more likely to be young, unemployed and struggling to meet ends, relatively uneducated, and not as religious as others but more willing to sacrifice own life for his or her beliefs. Gender and marital status are not found to significantly explain the individual-level variation in radicalization. Although these results may vary in magnitude and significance across countries and geographic regions, they are robust to various robustness checks. These results suggest that strategies to boost youth employment, education and vocational training, especially in poor communities, can be effective in curtailing the process of radicalization in the developing world.
JEL Classifications
  • P4 - Other Economic Systems