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

Jiahua Che, Kim Sau Chung*, Xue Qiao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

User-Defined Keywords

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


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