An interesting article about the intrepid economist Ben Olken brings to mind many questions about how the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya fails or succeeds in changing Russia:
Olken wonders whether economic development and the path to democratization are shaped more by broad historical forces or by the actions of specific leaders—be they democratically elected prime ministers or thuggish authoritarians. With the assistance of his frequent research partner Ben Jones, an economist at Northwestern, Olken has challenged broadly held assumptions by publishing a pair of papers asking how heads of state affect economic outcomes and democracy.
In “Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War,” Olken and Jones looked at the effects of political assassination, using a strict empirical methodology that takes into account economic conditions at the time of the killing and what Olken calls a “novel data set” of assassination attempts, successful and unsuccessful, between 1875 and 2004.Olken and Jones discovered that a country was “more likely to see democratization following the assassination of an autocratic leader,” but found no substantial “effect following assassinations—or assassination attempts—on democratic leaders.” They concluded that “on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy.” The researchers also found that assassinations have no effect on the inauguration of wars, a result that “suggests that World War I might have begun regardless of whether or not the attempt on the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 had succeeded or failed.”