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

  • Benjamin F. Jones
  • Benjamin A. Olken

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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13102.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13102.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13102
Note: EFG POL
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Legal Origins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1193-1229, November.
  3. Jackson, Matthew O. & Morelli, Massimo, . "Political bias and war," Working Papers 1247, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  4. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "Why Does Democracy Need Education?," NBER Working Papers 12128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-42, June.
  6. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864, August.
  7. Sandeep Baliga & David Lucca & Tomas Sjostrom, 2009. "Domestic Political Survival and International Conflict: Is Democracy Good for Peace?," Departmental Working Papers 200907, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  8. Asaf Zussman & Noam Zussman, 2006. "Assassinations: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Israeli Counterterrorism Policy Using Stock Market Data," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 193-206, Spring.
  9. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "Colonialism and Modern Income -- Islands as Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  11. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
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  1. Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War (AEJ:MA 2009) in ReplicationWiki
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