Thank You, Infidels! Social Welfare and Islamic State Recruitment - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Thank You, Infidels! Social Welfare and Islamic State Recruitment

Moamen Gouda and Marcus Marktanner

July, 2019


Economic Research Forum

D74. Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
D7. Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
F5. International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy

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.

Research Fellows

Moamen Gouda

Assistant Professor of Middle-East Economics, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea

Marcus Marktanner

Kennesaw State University



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