Public Choice

, Volume 169, Issue 3–4, pp 251–268

Oil and terrorism: an investigation of mediators


DOI: 10.1007/s11127-016-0357-0

Cite this article as:
Piazza, J.A. Public Choice (2016) 169: 251. doi:10.1007/s11127-016-0357-0


Do states with oil wealth experience more terrorism and, if so, why? Drawing from the intrastate war literature, this study considers several factors that prospectively mediate the relationship between oil wealth and terrorism: state weakness; rentier state authoritarianism; corruption of government officials; income inequality; human rights violations; foreign military intervention; and heightened separatist activity. Based on structural equation modeling on a sample of 130 non-OECD countries for the period 1970–2012, the paper produces two main empirical findings. First, while onshore oil production increases terrorist attacks in countries, on- and offshore production and oil revenues from exports do not increase such attacks. Second, the impact of oil on terrorism is mediated through increased human rights abuses. Exploitation of oil is found to be associated with a worsening of physical integrity rights abuses that, in turn, lead to popular grievances that help to fuel terrorist campaigns.


Terrorism Oil Resources Mediation Human rights abuses 

JEL Classification

F51 Q34 

Supplementary material

11127_2016_357_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (151 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 150 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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