Muslim Youth Unemployment and Islamic State Recruitment –bored to death?

Author(s): Moamen Gouda, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea; Marcus Marktanner, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, USA
Publication Number: ECES-WP201-E

Empirical studies analyzing the push factors of Islamic State recruitment are scarce and typically give contradictory results. We hypothesize that youth unemployment, as opposed to overall unemployment, is a significant determinant of foreign fighters flow to join Islamic State (IS).
Moreover, we also consider the interaction between youth unemployment and the Muslim population share as other meaningful variables affecting expat jihadism. Controlling for several variables including gross domestic product per capita; Gini; geographical proximity; the share of manufactures and services as a percentage of GDP; Polity score; and fractionalization, we provide strong evidence for the hypothesis that Muslim youth unemployment is a driver of Islamic State recruitment not only for Muslim-majority countries, but globally.

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