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

Benjamin F Jones, Benjamin A Olken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


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)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-87
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Macroeconomics
StatePublished - 2009


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