Karthik Reddy

Harvard Law School

Moritz Schularick

Free University of Berlin (FUB)

Vasiliki Skreta

University College London

April 2013

NYU Working Paper No. 2451/31757

Legal provisions that interfere with the arrest and prosecution of politicians exist throughout much of the modern democratic world. Why and with what effects do societies choose to place their politicians above the law? We examine the institution of immunity both theoretically and empirically. Our theoretical model demonstrates that immunity is a double-edged sword; while immunity provisions protect honest politicians from politically-motivated accusations, they may also incentivize corrupt behavior and attract dishonest individuals to public office. Which effect dominates depends on the quality of the judicial system. In order to empirically analyze the effects of immunity provisions, we quantify the strength of immunity protection in 73 democracies. We find empirical evidence that, though stronger immunity protection is associated with greater incidence of corruption where the judicial system is independent, this relationship has more ambiguous effects where the legal system is weak and prone to politicization. These effects remain after controlling for standard determinants of corruption.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: accountability, corruption, immunity, interest groups

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Date posted: October 4, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Reddy, Karthik and Schularick, Moritz and Skreta, Vasiliki, Immunity (April 2013). NYU Working Paper No. 2451/31757. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2156794

Contact Information

Karthik Reddy
Harvard Law School ( email )
1563 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Moritz Schularick
Free University of Berlin (FUB) ( email )
Lansstr. 7-9
Berlin 14195, 14195
Vasiliki Skreta
University College London ( email )
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/vskreta/‎
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