This paper is motivated by reports about Islamic State fighters having received welfare payments from their home countries. This phenomenon is particularly relevant for OECD countries. Using data of foreign fighters and social safety spending, we explore whether jihadism is an inferior or a normal good. Focusing largely on OECD countries and controlling for multicollinearity, simultaneity, and other explanatory factors of expat jihadism, we find strong empirical evidence that more social welfare spending leads to a higher number of foreign fighters. Thus, expat jihadism is a normal, not an inferior good. Our conclusions are policy relevant in the sense that they add to the literature of perverse effects of social welfare spending: Economic hardship is barely a source of radicalization and more generous social safety nets fail to convert radicalization inclined individuals into moderates.
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