Documentation of Immunity Coding

23 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2013

See all articles by Moritz Schularick

Moritz Schularick

University of Bonn - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Vasiliki Skreta

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; University College London

Date Written: April 2013


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.

Keywords: accountability, corruption, immunity, interest groups

Suggested Citation

Schularick, Moritz and Skreta, Vasiliki, Documentation of Immunity Coding (April 2013). NYU Working Paper No. 2451/31759, Available at SSRN:

Moritz Schularick

University of Bonn - Department of Economics ( email )


Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Vasiliki Skreta

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States


University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics