Killer Economics Ideas

In the theme of economic imperialism, David Uren alerts me to this new paper from boundary-pushing Swiss economist Bruno Frey. The current draft is a bit terse (it probably needs to be 2-3 times as long to make its points fully), but tis still a fun idea.

Why Kill Politicians? A Rational Choice Analysis of Political Assassinations
Bruno S. Frey
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.

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2 Responses to Killer Economics Ideas

  1. ChrisPer says:

    As I have been reading on influence mechanisms and the copycat effect, I have to feel nervous in case a title like this gets press exposure.

    For instance, according to forensic psychiatrist Prof Paul Mullen, the Port Arthur massacre was a copycat crime. Media reports both on gun control and on previous massacres provided a framing of the idea which prepared the perpetrator; then the Dunblane reporting triggered the actual crime.

    “We are going to have a massacre in Tasmania!” This was a Tasmanian activist, in A Current Affair report detailing how to get illegal guns, October 1995. A coroner found this report also triggered the death of one suicidal man from Victoria who used the show as his script to get a gun. The perpetrator told police he bought the gun about five months earlier, which fits doing it after the ACA report.

    It is very important that media reports do not reward such crimes, or provide framings that might encourage ‘lone nuts’ to imitate. There is a reason that so many crimes are committed by lone nuts, and its in their decision process, external influences and access to means – all potentially modified by media creating rewards and teaching the methods.

  2. ChrisPer says:

    Interesting read. His supply-demand curve model is jaw-droppingly simplistic, not elaborated worth a pinch of duck poop; and a collossal number of references are from Wikipedia.

    The creation of ‘spontaneous’ Al-Qaeda franchise operations suggests there are important ‘utilities’ to examine in honour-type social rewards, which are an independent kind of utility from ‘rational actor’ motivations, and are directly applicable to assassinations.

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