Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War
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.
We thank Ernesto Dal Bó, Amy Finkelstein, Hein Goemans, Michael Gordin, Katerina Linos, and Tara Zahra for helpful comments. Meghna Alladi, Nathaniel Kiechel, Ariana Kroshinky, Lauren Raouf, Pat Regan, and Atanas Stoyanov provided invaluable research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- A country whose autocrat is assassinated is 13 percentage points more likely to move toward democracy in the following year than a...
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. citation courtesy of