Anti-terrorism politics and the risk of provoking

A population’s level of terrorism depends on two factors: people’s preferences (would they like creating damage?) and the constraints under which people act (what damage could they create, and at what punishment?). Causerelated policies, e.g. improving social stability or education, aim at appeasing preferences, thereby reducing terrorism. Symptom-related policies, e.g. embargoes or wars, change the constraints (‘deterrence’), but may have side e¤ects on preferences (‘provocation’); terrorism increases if provocation overweighs deterrence. I model preferences for damage as endogenous and policy-dependent. I argue that provocation by tough policies is easy to overlook, and show that provocation-neglect leads to toughness-exaggeration.
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