34 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
Legal provisions that protect elected politicians from prosecution have been common throughout history and still exist in most democracies. We provide the first systematic measurement of immunity and study, theoretically and empirically, its relation to corruption. Theory predicts that immunity is a double‐edged sword. To test whether immunity is a vice or a virtue, we quantify immunity enjoyed by heads of government, ministers, and legislators in 90 countries. Controlling for standard determinants of corruption, we find that stronger immunity is associated with greater corruption. Instrumental variable estimations using immunity at the first democratic constitution suggest the effect could be causal.
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