Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Caruso, Raul

Ed. by Bove, Vincenzo / Kibris, Arzu / Sekeris, Petros

CiteScore 2017: 0.54

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.304
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.540

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 24, Issue 4


Volume 17 (2011)

Volume 4 (1996)

Volume 3 (1995)

Volume 2 (1994)

Volume 1 (1993)

Do Foreign Aid Projects Attract Transnational Terrorism?

Andrew Boutton / Henry PascoeORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5221-2134
Published Online: 2018-11-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/peps-2018-0027


Governments and NGOs establish aid projects in order to improve the quality of life for local residents around the world. While recent news stories about aid workers being kidnapped or killed by terrorist groups are alarming, they mask a broader question: Are aid projects effective in promoting humanitarian aims and pacifying the areas to which it is sent? Or, conversely, does their presence actually attract more violence? Although humanitarian assistance is ostensibly non-political, aid projects themselves may make popular targets for terrorist groups. In addition to increasing resources available to plunder, aid provides an appealing foreign target, allowing terrorist groups to reach wider audiences with their attacks and to reinforce the narrative that the government lacks capacity to protect and provide for civilians. In this paper we combine subnational, project-level aid data with newly-assembled subnational data on transnational terrorism to explore terrorist targeting of aid locations. After presenting our matched-sample analysis of terrorist targeting of aid, we outline avenues for future inquiry using high-resolution, subnational data to investigate the strategic vulnerabilities of foreign aid projects.

Keywords: Foreign Aid; Subnational; Terrorism


  • Aas Rustad, S. C., Buhaug, H., Falch, Å., & Gates, S. (2011). All conflict is local: Modeling sub-national variation in civil conflict risk. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 28(1), 15–40.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • AidData. 2017. WorldBank_GeocodedResearchRelease_Level1_v1.4.2 geocoded dataset. AidData.Google Scholar

  • Azam, J. P., & Delacroix, A. (2006). Aid and the delegated fight against terrorism. Review of Development Economics, 10(2), 330–344.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Azam, J. P., & Thelen, V. (2008). The roles of foreign aid and education in the war on terror. Public Choice, 135(3), 375–397.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beck, N. & Katz, J. (2001). Throwing out the baby with the bath water: a comment on Green, Kim, and Yoon. International Organization, 55(2), 487–495.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beck, N., & Katz. J. N. (1995). What to do (and not to do) with cross-section time-series data. American Political Science Review, 89(3), 634–647.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beck, N., Katz, J., & Tucker, R. (1998). Taking time seriously: time-series–cross-section analysis with a binary dependent variable. American Journal of Political Science, 42(4), 1260–1288.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Braithwaite, A. (2010). Conflict hot spots: emergence, causes, and consequences. Burlington, VT, USA: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Braithwaite, A., & Li, Q. (2007). Transnational terrorism hot spots: identification and impact evaluation. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 24(4), 281–296.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Buhaug, H., & Gates, S. (2002). The geography of civil war. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 39(4), 417–433.Google Scholar

  • Choi, S.-W., & Salehyan, I. (2013). No good deed goes unpunished: refugees, humanitarian aid, and terrorism. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 30(1), 53–75.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Crenshaw, M. (1981). Causes of terrorism. Comparative Politics, 13(4), 379–399.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Crilly, R. (2010). Pakistan floods: taliban vows to kidnap foreign aid workers. The Telegraph August 26, 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7965241/Pakistan-floods-Taliban-vows-to-kidnap-foreign-aid-workers.html.

  • Crost, B., Felter, J., & Johnston, P. (2014). Aid under fire: development projects and civil conflict. American Economic Review, 104(6), 1833–1856.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dahlberg, S., Holmberg, S., Rothstein, B., Pachon, N. A., & Svensson, R. (2018). The quality of government basic dataset, version Jan18. University of Gothenburg: The Quality of Government Institute. http://www.qog.pol.gu.se doi:10.18157/QoGBasJan18.

  • Dietrich, S. (2013). Bypass or engage? Explaining donor delivery tactics in foreign aid allocation. International Studies Quarterly, 57(4), 698–712.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dittrich Hallberg, J. (2012). Prio grid conflict site 1989-2008: a geo-referenced dataset on armed conflict. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 29, 219–232.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Fast, L. (2010). Minding the gap: documenting and explaining violence against aid workers. European Journal of International Relations, 16(3), 365–389.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Findley, M., & Young, J. K. (2012). More combatant groups, more terror? Empirical tests of an outbidding logic. Terrorism and Political Violence, 24, 706–721.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gibney, M., Cornett, L., Wood, R., Haschke, P., & Arnon, D. (2017). Political terror scale 1976-2016.Google Scholar

  • Goldewijk, K. K., Beusen, A., de Vos, M., & van Drecht, G. (2011). The HYDE 3.1 spspatial explicit database of human induced land use change over the past 12,000 years. Global Ecology and Bioeography, 20(1), 73–86.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Harbom, L., & Wallensteen, P. (2010). Armed conflicts, 1946-2009. Journal of Peace Research, 47(4), 501–509.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hedenius, A., & Teorell, J. (2005). Assessing alternative indices of democracy. Political Concepts: Committee on Concepts and Methods Working Paper Series, 6.Google Scholar

  • Humanitarian Outcomes. (2016). The aid worker security database. Accessed on June 10, 2018.Google Scholar

  • Kazim, H. (2010). Taliban courts pakistan flood victims: race to provide aid emerges between west and extremists. Speigel Online August 16, 2010. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/taliban-courts-pakistan-flood-victims-race-to-provide-aid-emerges-between-west-and-extremists-a-712060.html.

  • Kilcullen, D. (2010). Accidental guerilla: fighting small wars in the midst of a big one. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • King, G., & Zeng, L. (2001a). Explaining rare events in international relations. International Organization, 55(3), 693–715.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • King, G., & Zeng, L. (2001b). Logistic regression in rare events data. Political Analysis, 9(2), 137–163.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kydd, A., & Walter, B. (2006). The strategies of terrorism. International Security, 31(1), 49–80.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Marineau, J., Pascoe, H., Findley, M., Braithwaite, A., & Young, J. (Forthcoming). The local geography of transnational terrorism. Conflict Management and Peace Science .Google Scholar

  • Mickolus, E. F., Sandler, T., Murdock, J. M., & Flemming, P. A. (2015). International Terrorism: Attributes of Terrorist Events (ITERATE) Data Code Book. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.Google Scholar

  • Mitchell, D. (2015). Blurred lines? Provincial reconstruction teams and ngo insecurity in afghanistan, 2010–2011. Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, 4(1), 1–18.Google Scholar

  • Murdie, A., & Stapley, C. (2014). Why target the good guys? The determinants of terrorism against NGOs. International Interactions, 40, 79–102.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. (2011). Delaware climate data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD. Boulder, Colorado, USA. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/.

  • Nelson, A. (2008). Travel time to major cities: a global map of accessibility. Global Environment Monitoring Unit – Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra Italy.Google Scholar

  • Nemeth, S. C. & Mauslein, J. A. (Forthcoming). Generosity is a dangerous game: aid allocation and the risks of terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence.Google Scholar

  • Nemeth, S. C., Mauslein, J. A., & Stapley, C. (2014). The primacy of the local: identifying terrorist hot spots using geographic information systems. The Journal of Politics, 76(2), 304–317.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nielsen, R., Findley, M., Davis, Z., Candland, T., & Nielson, D. L. (2011). Foreign aid shocks as a cause of violent armed conflict. American Journal of Political Science, 55, 219–232.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nordhaus, W. D. (2006). Geography and macroeconomics: new data and new findings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(10), 3510–3517.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Raleigh, C., Cunningham, D., Wilhelmsen, L., & Gleditsch, N. P. (2006). Conflict sites 1946-2005, (2nd ed). Norway: PRIO Available at https://www.prio.org/Data/Armed-Conflict/Conflict-Site/.Google Scholar

  • Sekhon, J. (2009). Opiates for the matches: matching models for causal inference. Annual Review of Political Science, 12(1), 487–508.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sheik, M., Gutierrez, M. I., Bolton, P., Spiegel, P., Thieren, M., & Burnham, G. (2000). Deaths among humanitarian workers. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 321, 166–168.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Stanton, J., & Narang, N. (2017). A strategic logic of attacking aid workers: evidence from violence in afghanistan. International Studies Quarterly, 61, 38–51.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Storeygard, A., Balk, D., Levy, M., & Deane, G. (2008). The global distribution of infant mortality: a subnational spatial view. Population, Space and Place, 14(3), 209–229.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Tollefsen, A. F., Strand, H., & Buhaug, H. (2012). PRIO-GRID: a unified spatial data structure. Journal of Peace Research, 49(2), 363–374. The Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO).CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Tomz, M., King, G., & Zeng, L. (1999). RELOGIT: rare events logistic regression. Codebook. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.Google Scholar

  • Vogt, M., Bormann, N.-C., Rüegger, S., Cederman, L.-E., Hunziker, P., & Girardin, L. (2015). Integrating data on ethnicity, geography, and conflict: the ethnic power relations dataset family. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59(7), 1327–1342.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wade, S. J., & Reiter, D. (2007). Does democracy matter? Regime type and suicide terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 51, 329–348.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Weidmann, N. B., Kuse, D., & Gleditsch, K. S. (2010). The geography of the international system: the cshapes dataset. International Interactions, 36(1), 86–106.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wood, R., & Sullivan, C. (2015). Doing harm by doing good: the negative externalities of humanitarian aid provision during civil war. Journal of Politics, 77(3), 736–748.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Young, J. K., & Findley, M. (2011). Can peace be purchased? A sectoral-level analysis of aid’s influence on transnational terrorism. Public Choice, 149(3/4), 365–381.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Zurcher, C. (2017). What do we (not) know about development aid and violence? A systematic review. World Development, 98, 506–522.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-11-17

Citation Information: Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, Volume 24, Issue 4, 20180027, ISSN (Online) 1554-8597, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/peps-2018-0027.

Export Citation

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in