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The king can do no wrong: On the criminal immunity of leaders

Jiahua Che, Kim-Sau Chung and Xue Qiao

Journal of Public Economics, 2019, vol. 170, issue C, 15-26

Abstract: In its recent anti-corruption campaign, China removed the criminal immunity originally enjoyed by its leaders. Absent fundamental changes in the political institution—in which incumbent leaders, instead of citizens at large, select the next leaders—such a partial reform pays off only if (i) it takes place at the “right” time, (ii) it goes easy on corrupt low-rank officials, and (iii) the government is reasonably centralized. Failing any of these, such a partial reform would lead to rampant corruption throughout the government hierarchy—an outcome far worse than retaining leader immunity.

Keywords: Leader immunity; Hostage motive; Corruption; Autocracy; Party elites (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D02 H11 J45 P37 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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