Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2010


This study examines the conditions that facilitate domestic terrorism. Research on domestic terrorism has been sparse in comparison to studies that examine terrorism as a general phenomenon and transnational terrorism in particular. Most researchers find that a country’s level of economic development and religious composition do not help explain its experience with terrorism. I examine if these claims apply to terrorist activity at the domestic level to explore the extent to which domestic terrorism differs from other forms of terrorism. Specifically, I employ a negative binomial regression model with time-series, cross-sectional (TSCS) data in order to observe if economic development and religion can help explain levels of domestic terrorism while controlling for other factors, including political rights, population, education, and past domestic terrorist incidents. In line with much of the empirical evidence, I observe that poor countries are no more likely to suffer domestic terrorist attacks as wealthy ones. Since domestic terrorism can resemble civil war – a type of violence that does often emerge as a result of economic problems – this finding is especially noteworthy. Religious diversity in a country is correlated with a reduction in domestic terrorism, which stands in contrast to most research on transnational terrorism. Despite the international attention to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslim countries seem no more prone to domestic terrorism than others.