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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics: Vol. 1 No. 2 (July 2009)

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

Article Citation

Jones, Benjamin F., and Benjamin A. Olken. 2009. "Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War." American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 1(2): 55-87.

DOI: 10.1257/mac.1.2.55

Abstract

Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new dataset 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 the effects of assassination. 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. (JEL D72, N40, O17)

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Authors

Jones, Benjamin F. (Northwestern U)
Olken, Benjamin A. (MIT)

JEL Classifications

D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
O17: Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
N40: Economic History: Government, War, Law, and Regulation: General, International, or Comparative

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American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics


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