The Impact of Terrorism on Social Capital: Evidence from the 2015 Charlie Hebdo Paris Shooting

Shawn J. McCoy, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Ian K. Mcdonough, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Punarjit Roychowdhury, Indian Institute of Management Indore


We examine the impact of terrorism on social capital by exploiting variation in the 2014 European Social Survey administration dates coupled with the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France. Using the difference‐in‐differences estimator, we find that the attack had a positive, causal impact on the overall level of social capital among French respondents. Further, the effect seems to be driven by an increase in institutional and interpersonal trust, as well as by engagement in social networks. This rise in social capital peaks in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack but subsequently decays to pre‐attack levels within approximately one month.