Professor Benmelech and Dr. Berrebi compare a Who's Who of the biggest suicide bombers to more typical bombers. Whereas typical bombers were younger than 21 and about 18 percent of them had at least some college education, the average age of the most successful bombers was almost 26 and 60 percent of them were college educated. Experience and education also affect the chances of being caught. Every additional year of age reduces the chance by 12 percent. Having more than a high school education cuts the chance by more than half. There are many examples where young or uneducated terrorists made stupid mistakes that foiled them. Professor Benmelech recounts the case last April of a teenager from Nablus apprehended by Israeli soldiers before carrying out his bombing because he was wearing an overcoat on a 95- degree day. Mr. Reid, the failed shoe bomber, had only a high school degree. Would an older
terrorist with more education have tried to light a match on his shoe (as Mr. Reid did) in plain view of the flight attendant and other passengers who proceeded to thwart his plan? Would a better-educated terrorist have been more discreet? We will never know. The research suggests, however, that there may be a reason that the average age of the 9/11 hijackers (at least the ones for whom we have a birth date) was close to 26 and that the supposed leader, Mohammed Atta, was 33 with a graduate degree. As Professor Benmelech put it in an interview: “It's clear that there are some terrorist missions that require a certain level of skill to accomplish. The older terrorists with better educations seem to be less likely to fail them. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that terrorist organizers assign them to these more difficult missions.” Among Palestinian suicide bombers, the older and better-educated bombers are assigned to targets in bigger cities where they can potentially kill greater numbers of people. That same idea means that the terrorists assigned to attack the United States are probably different from the typical terrorist. They will be drawn from people whose skills make them better at evading security. Source: New York Times, September 14, 2006. Post-Lecture: Chapter 19 Greg Mankiw Answers Key Questions: How can it be right that a basketball superstar can earn millions of dollars, when most people earn less than one hundred thousand? 19-1F Above-Equilibrium Wages: Minimum-Wage Laws, Unions, And Efficiency Wages Most analyses of wage differences among workers are based on the equilibrium model of the labor market—that is, wages are assumed to adjust to balance labor supply and labor demand. But this assumption does not always apply. For some workers, wages are set above the level that brings supply and demand into equilibrium. Let's consider three reasons this might be so.