Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Administration of Justice

First Advisor

Morris, Nancy


Despite the increase in terrorism research post September 11, 2001, little is known about domestic terrorism though it occurs at overwhelmingly higher rates as compared to transnational terrorism. Although the use of criminological theory and methods to study terrorism has increased recently, there are relatively few terrorism studies within the criminological literature. Drawing upon extant criminological theories of violence among countries, this study uses the recently created Global Terrorism Database to examine the distribution and correlates of domestic terrorism among 72 developed nations between 1970 and 1997. This study examined the following questions. First, do prior established predictors of criminal violence (i.e., economy, inequality, social welfare, political orientation, ethnic fractionalization, population, and pre-existing violence) also predict domestic terrorism at the country level? Second, is the relationship between these macro-structural and cultural variables in the same direction as found in the previously published literature? Using a series of contemporaneous cross-sectional analyses and lagged cross-sectional analysis, the results from this study indicate that there is considerable similarity between the correlates of cross-national homicide and correlates of domestic terrorism. There was considerable evidence for the relationship between population size and overall levels of domestic terrorism. This relationship was robust across short time intervals (1970s), the full time span (1970-1997), as well as in the long and short term lagged analyses (1970-1990 predictors of domestic terrorism in 1991-1997 and 1991-1994 predictors on 1995-1997 domestic terrorism). On the contrary I did not find evidence that large youth populations are significantly related to higher levels of domestic terrorism. Income inequality (GINI) also emerged as a significant correlate of domestic terrorism in the long and short term contemporaneous analyses. Those countries that had higher overall levels of income inequality for the entire time span also had higher levels of domestic terrorism, compared to those countries with low levels of income inequality. Contrary to theoretical expectations yet supportive of prior criminological research, this study found that stronger democracies actually have more domestic terrorism. In particular, those countries with more restrictions placed on executive decision-making power, tend to have more domestic terrorism events, compared to those countries with less restrictive executive decision-making processes. This study concludes with a discussion of the results within the larger criminological literature as well as future avenues of research.




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