This study evaluates the relationship between democracy and the decision calculus of terrorist organizations. Starting with a simple formalization of the budget constraint for terrorist organizations, this project evaluates two schools of thought regarding the role of democracy. The first school, labeled the strategic school, argues that democratic regimes decrease the price of violence and therefore encourage terrorism. The second school, labeled the political access school, argues that democratic regimes decrease the price of non-violent political expression and thereby decrease the probability of terrorism. These competing explanations are evaluated against the ITERATE cross-national time series data for the years 1968 to 1986, using a negative binomial regression event count model. The results show that established democracies are less likely to experience terrorism than non-democracies, but that newly formed democracies are more likely to experience terrorism than other types of states.
Terrorism and democratic states: Soft targets or accessible systems