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

44 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2007

See all articles by Benjamin F. Jones

Benjamin F. Jones

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Society of Fellows

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2007

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Jones, Benjamin F. and Olken, Benjamin A., Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War (May 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13102. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=986952

Benjamin F. Jones (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

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Benjamin A. Olken

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Harvard University - Society of Fellows

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