Autocracies and Terrorism: Conditioning Effects of Authoritarian Regime Type on Terrorist Attacks

Matthew C. Wilson, James A. Piazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Although empirical research has generally demonstrated that democracies experience more terrorism than autocracies, research suggests that this depends upon complex institutional differences that go beyond the democracy-autocracy divide. This study examines these differences, linking institutions to strategies of coercion and co-optation. Using zero-inflated negative binomial regression estimations on Geddes' (2003) autocratic regime-type data for 161 countries between 1970 and 2006, we find that single-party authoritarian regimes consistently experience less domestic and international terrorism relative to military autocracies and democracies. This finding is robust to a large number of specifications, underscoring the explanatory power of regime type for predicting terrorism. Our explanation for these findings is that party-based autocracies have a wider range of coercion and co-option strategies that they can employ to address grievance and dissent than do other, more strategically restricted, regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-955
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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