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

Jiahua Che (First Author), Xue Qiao (Participant Author), Kim-Sau Chung (Participant Author)

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3 Citations (Web of Science)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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  • Autocracy
  • Corruption
  • Hostage motive
  • Leader immunity
  • Party elites

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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