Can Mass Purges Root Out Corruption?

31 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2022

See all articles by Pinda Wang

Pinda Wang

John Hopkins University

Johannes Lützenrath

Independent

Stephane Wolton

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

Date Written: August 21, 2022

Abstract

Can an autocrat gain control over her agents, reducing embezzlement in the short run, with mass anti-corruption campaigns? Can an autocrat obtain some selection, improving the honesty of agents within the regime? We use of formal model of top-down accountability to answer these questions. We show that an autocrat can reach both control and selection when (i) the regime capacity to detect embezzlement is high and (ii) corrupt agents are less aligned with the autocrat's goals than honest subordinates. Should the first condition fail and control is no longer possible. Should the second condition be violated and selection becomes impossible. We highlight a series of potentially counter-intuitive comparative statics and we describe how our model can help explain certain patterns in Xi Jinping's recent and still on-going anti-corruption campaign.

Keywords: Top-down accountability, control, selection, slack, Xi Jinping

JEL Classification: D73, D74, D80

Suggested Citation

Wang, Pinda and Lützenrath, Johannes and Wolton, Stephane, Can Mass Purges Root Out Corruption? (August 21, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4196073 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4196073

Pinda Wang

John Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD
United States

Johannes Lützenrath

Independent

Stephane Wolton (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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