Why Kill Politicians? A Rational Choice Analysis of Political Assassinations

22 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2007

Date Written: May 2007

Abstract

In the course of history a large number of politicians has been assassinated. A rational choice analysis is used to distinguish the expected marginal benefits of killing, and the marginal cost of attacking a politician. The comparative analysis of various equilibria helps us to gain insights into specific historical events.

The analysis suggests that - in addition to well-known security measures - an extension of democracy, a rule by a committee of several politicians, more decentralization via the division of power and federalism, and a strengthening of civil society significantly reduce politicians' probability of being attacked and killed.

Keywords: Rational choice, democracy, dictatorship, assassination, deterrence

JEL Classification: D01, D70, K14, K42, Z10

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S., Why Kill Politicians? A Rational Choice Analysis of Political Assassinations (May 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=990275 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.990275

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
Switzerland
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002
Switzerland

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