Political Economy

Religion and terrorism: Evidence from Ramadan fasting

We study the effect of religion and intense religious experiences on terrorism by focusing on one of the five pillars of Islam: Ramadan fasting. For identification, we exploit two facts: First, daily fasting from dawn to sunset during Ramadan is considered mandatory for most Muslims. Second, the Islamic calendar is not synchronized with the solar cycle. We find a robust negative effect of more intense Ramadan fasting on terrorist events within districts and country-years in predominantly Muslim countries. This effect seems to operate partly through decreases in public support for terrorism and the operational capabilities of terrorist groups.