Article first published online: May 12, 2015.
Javier Gardeazabal, Professor of Economics, University of the Basque Country &
Todd Sandler, Vibhooti Shukla Chair in Economics and Political Economy, University of Texas at Dallas
What was the genesis of the idea for your research/paper?
MIND/FIND surveillance allows countries to screen people and documents systematically at border crossings against INTERPOL databases on terrorists, fugitives, and stolen and lost travel documents. Such documents have been used in the past by terrorists to transit borders. In a 2011 paper Walter Enders and Todd Sandler (Who adopts MIND/FIND in INTERPOL’s fight against international crime and terrorism? Public Choice 149(3), 263-280) looked at the determinants of INTERPOL's MIND/FIND adoption by member countries. Having analyzed countries' propensity to implement a policy, it seemed obvious to us that we had study the effect of the policy.
What is the main conclusion that becomes evident from your research? (Or, what is your main takeaway?)
By applying methods developed in the treatment-effects literature, this article establishes that countries adopting MIND/FIND experienced fewer transnational terrorist attacks than had they not adopted MIND/FIND. Estimates indicate that, on average, from 2008 to 2011, adopting and using MIND/FIND results in 0.5 fewer transnational terrorist incidents each year per 100 million people. Thus, a country like France with a population just above 64 million people in 2008 would have 0.32 fewer transnational terrorist incidents per year owing to its use of INTERPOL surveillance. This amounts to a sizeable average proportional reduction of about 30 per cent. Globally, this translates into many fewer terrorist incidents.
What are some of the more interesting or surprising findings/conclusions did you find in the process of bringing this together?
To put the associated INTERPOL costs into perspective, approximately 13.8 million euros were spent by INTERPOL in 2011 on assisting its member countries’ counterterrorism activities. Of course, member countries using MIND/FIND have initial setup costs before their border officials can start using the technology and databases for searches. The associated costs are minuscule compared to the tens of billions that the United States alone spends on homeland security. Our analysis shows that the small INTERPOL costs have huge paybacks in thwarting transnational terrorism as borders are made more secure.
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Javier Gardeazabal is Professor of Economics at the University of the Basque Country.
He has been coeditor of the Spanish Economic review, Investigaciones Económicas,
Revista de Economía Aplicada and Moneda y Crédito and currently serves on the
editorial board of Defence and Peace Economics. He served as a board member of the
Spanish Economic Association, of which he is now a fellow.
His research fields include international finance, labor economics, gender economics, economics of conflict and econometrics.
Todd Sandler holds the Vibhooti Shukla Chair in Economics and Political Economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has written or edited twenty-three books, including The Political Economy of Terrorism (Cambridge University Press (with Walter Enders). His work on terrorism dates back to his co-authored paper, “A Theoretical Analysis of Transnational Terrorism,” in 1983 (American Political Science Review). In 2003, he was the co-recipient with Walter Enders of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War for their path-breaking theoretical and statistical analysis of terrorism.