Terrorism Cost the EU €180 Billion Between 2004 and 2016

For Release

June 6, 2018

The European Union (EU) lost around €180 billion in GDP terms due to terrorism between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study from the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe.

The report, prepared for the European Parliament, shows that terrorism is negatively associated with economic growth in Europe.

Beyond those who have been directly physically affected by terrorist attacks, the extensive coverage of terrorist attacks through multiple media and social media channels has substantially increased the amount of people and companies that could be psychologically affected. This subsequently affects their economic behaviour.

According to the study, changes in economic behaviour could be the reason behind the observed negative effects on economic growth, as people and companies change their purchasing, saving and investing behaviours following terror attacks.

While consumer purchasing habits remained relatively stable, and in some cases increased in the aftermath of a terror attack, the evidence provided in the study suggests that investments may have decreased, with a shift to less efficient and lower growth-enhancing public expenditure.

However, these negative effects on economic growth tended to be short-lived and only apply within the year after the terror attack.

The research used econometric modelling techniques to quantify the impact of terrorism on the European economy by looking at the effect on GDP growth per capita during the 12-year period between 2004 and 2016 across all 28 EU nations.

The UK (€43.7 billion) and France (€43 billion) suffered the highest economic losses in GDP terms due to terrorism. This was closely followed by Spain (€40.8 billion), and then Germany (around €19.2 billion).

Marco Hafner, a senior economist at RAND Europe who led the analysis, says, “Besides the obvious physical devastation and emotional trauma, there is a negative impact on economic growth in the countries where these terrorist attacks take place. When you bear in mind the infrequent nature of terror events in Europe, the GDP losses that occur to national economies are notable.”

Hafner continues, “A clear message from the report is that terrorist attacks can lead to a range of psychological effects that mean people and companies change their economic behaviours. For instance, some people may value their future less and 'live in the moment more.' These effects can impact how people consume and save, potentially leading to an increase in consumption and decrease in savings and investment rates by companies. The end result is economic losses across Europe.”

In addition to negative economic growth, the report also outlined the associations between terrorism and the self-reported levels of life satisfaction, happiness and trust from EU citizens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more terrorist attacks are associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and happiness among the population.

Hafner notes, “The softer measures of life satisfaction, happiness and trust that are negatively affected highlight the wide variety of impacts from terrorism.”

The report outlines a number of potential policy options to reduce the possibility of terrorist attacks and subsequent economic costs. Part of these focus on building greater EU-wide coordination and knowledge sharing on the most effective counter terrorism and radicalisation initiatives, and greater information sharing across different member states and with Europol and Eurojust. However, the report notes that some policy options could have implications for human rights legislation and data protection across the EU.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:

  • To request a copy of the report or to arrange an interview with one of the researchers on the project please contact Lizzy Iredale on eiredale@rand.org.
  • The report was prepared for the European Parliament. It can be found in the Annex of the European Parliament's final report.
  • RAND Europe is a not-for-profit research organisation whose mission is to help improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. www.randeurope.org
  • Table 1. Estimated total of GDP costs by EU member states between 2004 and 2016 (and 2013-2016) due to terrorism.
Member State GDP cost 2004-2016 (€ million) GDP cost 2013-2016 (€ million)
Austria 863.0 166.7
Belgium 7,829.4 7,627.2
Bulgaria 216.2 29.9
Croatia 43.9 9.9
Cyprus 862.8 726.8
Czech Republic 380.6 176.5
Denmark 676.8 551.4
Estonia 33.9 22.6
Finland 481.3 428.3
France 43,009.9 36,089.9
Germany 19,170.4 15,567.4
Greece 10,398.2 3,403.6
Hungary 111.2 28.1
Ireland 4,339.8 3,027.0
Italy 2,212.5 883.0
Latvia 0.0 0.0
Lithuania 0.0 0.0
Luxembourg 0.0 0.0
Malta 26.2 26.2
Netherlands 1,700.7 506.7
Poland 19.1 19.1
Portugal 32.7 0.0
Romania 8.1 0.0
Slovak Republic 15.2 15.2
Slovenia 0.0 0.0
Spain 40,798.0 313.3
Sweden 2,869.1 2,397.2
United Kingdom 43,712.9 15,784.3
EU-28 179,811.9 87,800.4
  • The associations between terrorism and the psychological effects on EU citizens were investigated through analysing the European Social Survey for the years 2002 to 2015 and the World Values Survey for the years 1990 to 2015.

About RAND

RAND is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.