Professor Todd Sandler presents an eclectic review of the scientific study of terrorism that views all agents as rational decision makers.  The lecture begins with a discussion of terrorist event databases that are used by researchers to test key theoretical propositions about terrorism (e.g., the economic consequences of terrorism) and the practice of counterterrorism.

These databases are used to investigate how terrorist events have evolved over time since the start of the modern era of terrorism in 1968. Based on policy relevance, the talk identifies four key areas of intense research interests.

These include analyses of the economic consequences of terrorism, the study of counterterrorism effectiveness, the causes of terrorism, and the relationship of terrorism and liberal democracies. 

These analyses use a variety of tools including time-series analysis, panel estimation, hazard models, contest analysis, and game theory.  New developments in the field focused involve distinguishing key differences between domestic and transnational terrorism. Additionally, recent game-theoretic advances permitted more active agents and stages to the games. Other major developments involve the study of networked terrorists and the role of counterterrorism foreign aid. 

Fruitful future directions include using advanced econometric methods (e.g., principal component analysis and correcting for cross-sectional dependency) to discern the true impact of terrorism on growth, applying spatial econometrics to the study of terrorism, ascertaining the determinants of terrorist groups’ longevity, and learning how to foster international counterterrorism cooperation.

Todd Sandler

Todd Sandler – Vibhooti Shukla Professor of Economics and Political Economy at The University of Texas at Dallas – researches international political economy, defense, environmental issues, international health concerns, terrorism, and public economics.
Sandler's research has appeared in leading journals in economics and political science, including the American Political Science Review, the American Economic Review, American Journal of Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Political Analysis and the Journal of Law and Economics. He has also authored or co-authored twenty-three books.
Sandler has served as consultant for the United Nations Development Program, the Overseas Development Council, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Inter-American Development Bank, International Task Force for Global Public Goods, the World Bank, and UNIDO.