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A Princeton economist seeks to put the risks Americans face from terrorism into “proper perspective” with his unique book due out next month.
Alan B. Krueger will explore three questions in “What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism,” including who becomes a terrorist, where terrorism emerges and what terrorism accomplishes.
Bottom line: Terrorists are drawn from well-educated, highincome families and are more likely to be engineers and doctors, as opposed to those from uneducated and poor backgrounds. But more impor tantly, Mr. Krueger says Americans must correctly identify the root causes of terrorism, because “an accurate understanding of terrorists’ motives can help us put terrorists’ acts behind us, demystify terrorism, and enable society to move on and put the risks of future attacks into perspective.”
The economist reminds readers in spite of widespread fear that foreign terrorists will attack the United States, 88 percent of terrorist attacks “occur in the perpetrator’s country of origin.”
Finally, don’t assume long-term economic effects of terrorism are huge and crippling. The global loss of about $6.4 billion per year owing to terrorism is a comparatively small share of the gross domestic product (GDP), or only about 0.064 percent.
So terrorism, Mr. Krueger concludes, “only matters in a big way if we let it matter.”