The paper reviews recent literature on the social backgrounds of terrorists and on cross-country analyses of economic causes of terrorism and focuses on public opinion polls concerning support for political violence and suicide terrorism. The existing literature does not show any clear pattern regarding the connection between terrorism and poverty. Studies that refer to economic motivations of terrorists are mostly based on anecdotal evidence, while studies based on systematic quantitative or qualitative analyses, such as cross-country comparisons, analyses of the militant organizations' publications, or interviews, tend to show that terrorism is not correlated with poverty. Scholars find that public support for terrorism has an impact on the intensity of terrorist acts. Polls among Palestinians conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research between 2001 and 2005 and the results of the Pew Global Attitudes Survey from 2002 in five Muslim countries show no evidence that those who are impoverished and uneducated tend to support militant activities to a larger extent than their more affluent and better-educated compatriots. Systematic, comparative and evidence-based research is needed to explain the differences among individual Muslim countries and to understand who does and who does not support politically motivated violence and under what circumstances.
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