IZA DP No. 4447: Could Education Promote the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process?
This paper explores Palestinians' attitudes towards a peace process and their determinants, with a particular focus on the role of education. Understanding the factors that shape attitudes towards peace is important in order to be successful in negotiations or in implementing a peace agreement. In the literature, there is particular disagreement about the role of education. While some authors have linked violent and extreme positions to ignorance and to low market opportunities, others have found that education is positively correlated with being a member of a terrorist group. To better understand the role of education I decompose the attitudes towards peace into two dimensions; attitudes towards reconciliation and attitudes towards concessions. To measure these attitudes, I use a flexible item response model proposed by Spady (2007), which allows to take into account the multidimensionality of the concepts. The results show that education has a positive effect on attitudes towards concessions but a negative effect on attitudes towards reconciliation. This may occur because relative to a situation of peace, highly educated individuals are more strongly affected by current depressed economic conditions in Palestine. They therefore have more to gain from a peace agreement and may thus be more willing to make concessions. At the same time, they may be more frustrated and therefore less willing to reconcile. I also find that their attitudes to reconciliation move closely with aggregate economic conditions, while those of less educated individual are also influenced by local factors such as the construction of the separation barrier in their region of residence.