NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War

Benjamin F. Jones, Benjamin A. Olken

NBER Working Paper No. 13102
Issued in May 2007
NBER Program(s):   EFG   POL

Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new data set of assassination attempts on all world leaders from 1875 to 2004, we exploit inherent randomness in the success or failure of assassination attempts to identify assassination's effects. We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy. We also find that assassinations affect the intensity of small-scale conflicts. The results document a contemporary source of institutional change, inform theories of conflict, and show that small sources of randomness can have a pronounced effect on history.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13102

Published: Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 55-87, July.

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