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Fear without Prejudice in the Shadow of Jihadist Threat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Early online date14 Oct 2020
Accepted/In press9 Jul 2020
E-pub ahead of print14 Oct 2020


King's Authors


Because the prejudice of the ingroup builds into fear of the outgroup, jihadist terrorism is expected to strengthen the politicized link between security and immigration. I use a causal inference in a clustered cross-country analysis to test the simultaneous short-run causal impact of the jihadist threat on security fear and ethnic prejudice of the public in Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, France, and Germany. In line with common wisdom, jihadist attacks significantly increase security fear. Against it, jihadist attacks non-significantly decrease ethnic prejudice. This empirical pattern holds in across different types of immigration attitudes, ethnic groups, intervals of time and terrorist events, and is robust to placebo treatments, placebo policy preferences, fake and failed terror attacks. These findings challenge extant consensus, and suggest that jihadist attacks, particularly at the local level, induce risk-aversion rather than desire for retaliation.

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