What country conditions breed terrorism? Relative deprivation theory holds that instead of an absolute standard of deprivation, a gap between expected and achieved welfare leads men to political violence. My research examines whether levels of unemployment and higher education that reflect relative deprivation correspond with an increase in terrorist attacks. A recent surge in empirical studies of terrorism has shown that, contrary to popular belief, terrorists tend to be highly educated and from wealthier families than average. This study models relative deprivation by examining the effect of unemployment and tertiary education on levels of terrorism. I examine terrorist attacks from 1980-2008 across 56 countries to see whether the interaction effect of unemployment and higher education is positively correlated with an increase in the number of terrorist attacks. The results of my multivariate regression suggest that this interaction
may be somewhat significant in countries where there have been previous attacks. Additionally, while unemployment and population size are strongly correlated with increased instances of terrorism, higher education alone has no significant relationship with a nation’s levels of terrorism. I discuss possible reasons for the significance of these indicators and the policy implications of my findings.