The Effect of Migration on Terror - Made at Home or Imported from Abroad?

57 Pages Posted: 29 May 2017

See all articles by Axel Dreher

Axel Dreher

Heidelberg University

Martin Gassebner

ETH Zurich - KOF Swiss Economic Institute; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Paul Schaudt

Leibniz Universit├Ąt Hannover; University of St. Gallen

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2017


We analyze the causal effect of the stock of foreigners residing in a country on the probability of a terrorist attack in that country. Our instrument for the stock of foreigners relies on the interactions of two sets of variables. Variation across host-origin-dyads results from structural characteristics between the country of origin and the host, while variation over time makes use of changes in push and pull factors between host and origin countries resulting from natural disasters. Using data for 20 OECD host countries and 183 countries of origin over the 1980-2010 period we show that the probability of a terrorist attack increases with a larger number of foreigners living in a country. However, this scale effect is not larger than the effect domestic populations have on domestic terror. We find scarce evidence that terror is systematically imported from countries with large Muslim populations or countries where terror prevails. Policies that exclude foreigners already living in a country increase rather than reduce the risk that foreign populations turn violent, and so do terrorist attacks against foreigners in their host country. High skilled migrants are associated with a significantly lower risk of terror compared to low skilled ones, while there is no significant difference between male and female migrants.

Keywords: terrorism, migration, migration policy

JEL Classification: D740, F220, F520, P480

Suggested Citation

Dreher, Axel and Gassebner, Martin and Schaudt, Paul and Schaudt, Paul, The Effect of Migration on Terror - Made at Home or Imported from Abroad? (September 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Axel Dreher

Heidelberg University ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117


Martin Gassebner (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich - KOF Swiss Economic Institute ( email )

Weinbergstrasse 35
Zurich, 8092


CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

Paul Schaudt

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Bodanstrasse 8
St.Gallen, 9000

Leibniz Universit├Ąt Hannover ( email )

Welfengarten 1
D-30167 Hannover, 30167

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