How much terror? Dissidents, governments, institutions, and the cross-national study of terror attacks

Ryan Bakker, Daniel W. Hill, Will H. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Our knowledge of the set of concepts that influence the number of terror attacks experienced by different countries is rudimentary. Existing work on the incidence of terror focuses upon the structural characteristics of polities, economies, and societies, and fails to place competition between dissidents and states center stage. It also tends to treat terror as isolated from other tactics that dissident groups might use to pressure the state. This study addresses these shortcomings by placing government and dissident group behavior at the center of the analysis. Drawing on arguments from the larger literature on dissent and repression, we argue that government behavior and dissident behavior are likely to be more important determinants of terror attacks than structural factors. We scour the literature for existing arguments to round out our model specification, and evaluate hypotheses using Bayesian statistical techniques and a broad scope of relevant data. For many of our independent variables we construct indices using measurement models that are able to account for measurement error and missing data, resulting in a more comprehensive set of data than previous studies. The results demonstrate that measures of government and dissident behavior have more explanatory power than measures of the concepts that populate existing research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-726
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Bayesian statistics
  • terrorism
  • violent dissent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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