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Swiss watch cycles: Evidence of corruption during leadership transition in China

Xiaohuan Lan and Wei Li

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2018, vol. 46, issue 4, 1234-1252

Abstract: This paper presents evidence of corruption during China's leadership transitions when governmental positions are open for competition. The import value of luxury watches, a popular medium for corrupt exchanges, peaked during regular leadership transitions in 1996–97, 2001–02, and 2006–07. However, imports of nonluxury watches and other luxury items unpopular for corrupt exchanges did not exhibit the same cycle. Nor did imports of luxury watches increase in Hong Kong, Singapore, or the US. During the leadership transition of 2011–12, since wearing a conspicuous luxury watch was by then likely to be exposed on social media and trigger an anti-corruption investigation, this “Swiss watch cycle” vanished.

Keywords: Corruption; Political selection; China; Luxury watches (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D73 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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