Immunity

36 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2013

See all articles by Karthik Reddy

Karthik Reddy

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 31, 2013

Abstract

Legal provisions that protect politicians from arrest and prosecution 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 statutory immunity provisions protect honest politicians from politically-motivated charges, they may also incentivize corrupt behavior. 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 enjoyed by heads of government, ministers, and legislators in 73 democracies. We find empirical evidence that though stronger immunity protection is associated with greater corruption where the judicial system is independent, this relationship has more ambiguous effects where the legal system is weak and susceptible to politicization. These effects remain after controlling for standard determinants of corruption.

Keywords: accountability, corruption, immunity, interest groups

JEL Classification: K400, N400, D720, D780

Suggested Citation

Reddy, Karthik and Schularick, Moritz and Skreta, Vasiliki, Immunity (October 31, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2348067 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2348067

Karthik Reddy

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Moritz Schularick (Contact Author)

University of Bonn - Department of Economics ( email )

Bonn
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Vasiliki Skreta

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

Austin, TX 78712
United States

HOME PAGE: http://vskreta.wixsite.com/vskreta

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://vskreta.wixsite.com/vskreta

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