Terrorism and the Labor Force: Evidence of an Effect on Female Labor Force Participation and the Labor Gender Gap

Claude Berrebi*, Jordan Ostwald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Recent studies have identified correlational associations linking terrorism and females’ standing in the labor market. Theories have been proposed to explain these associations. Some concluded that women’s participation in the labor force could be the driver that moves terrorism; others proposed that terrorism motivates the deviations in the labor force. No study has adequately explored causality and the direction of this association. Using a panel data set of 165 countries and terrorism data from 1980 to 2007, we find that terrorist attacks decrease female labor force participation and increase the gender gap between male and female labor force participation. By exploiting variation across countries and time, we are able to identify and quantify these effects; we are also able to address endogeneity concerns by using two novel instrumental variable approaches. The results are statistically significant and robust across a multitude of model specifications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)32-60
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Berrebi is grateful for the financial support from the Marie Curie CIG reintegration grant funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


  • conflict
  • conservatism
  • gender gap
  • labor
  • national security
  • natural disasters
  • terrorism


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