The Political Consequences of Assassination

27 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2006 Last revised: 12 Nov 2007

See all articles by Zaryab Iqbal

Zaryab Iqbal

University of South Carolina

Christopher Zorn

Pennsylvania State University

Date Written: November 8, 2007


The assassination of a political leader is among the highest-profile acts of political violence, and conventional wisdom holds that such events often have substantial political, social, and economic effects on states. We investigate the extent to which the assassination of a head of state affects political stability, through an analysis of all assassinations of heads of state between 1952 and 1997. We examine the political consequences of assassination by assessing the levels of political unrest, instability, and civil war in states that experience the assassination of their head of state. Our findings support the existence of an interactive relationship among assassination, leadership succession, and political turmoil: in particular, we find that assassinations' effects on political instability are greatest in systems in which the process of leadership succession is informal and unregulated.

Keywords: assassination, democracy, political stability, international relations

JEL Classification: H11, C23

Suggested Citation

Iqbal, Zaryab and Zorn, Christopher, The Political Consequences of Assassination (November 8, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Zaryab Iqbal

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Christopher Zorn (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

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