Terrorism and Political Attitudes: Evidence from European Social Surveys
Since the turn of the last century, nationalistic political parties have been gaining support in Europe. Over the same period, terror attacks have increased. Using data from European Social Surveys (ESS), we examine the effects of terror attacks involving at least one fatality on attitudes towards immigrants and government institutions. Comparing within-country responses to the ESS shortly before and after fatal terror attacks, we find little evidence of a shift in attitudes against immigrants. Consistent with “rally-around-the flag” effects documented by political scientists, ESS respondents living in the region that was attacked tend to express more trust in parliament and more satisfaction with the national government in the post- as compared to the pre-attack period. Similarly, we find evidence that particularly salient terror attacks can produce nationwide rally-around-the-flag effects.
We thank Jay Matonte for excellent research assistance and D. Mark Anderson for invaluable comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.