Che, Jiahua, Kim-Sau Chung, and 乔雪. "The king can do no wrong: On the criminal immunity of leaders." Journal of Public Economics 170 (2019): 15-26.
In its recent anti-corruption campaign, China removed the criminal immunity originally enjoyed by its leaders. Absent fundamental changes in the political institution— where incumbent leaders, instead of citizens at large, select the next leaders—such a partial reform pays off only if (i) it takes place at the “right” time, (ii) it goes easy on corrupt low-rank officials, and (iii) the government is reasonably centralized. Failing any of these, such a partial reform would lead to rampant corruption throughout the government hierarchy, an outcome far worse than retaining leader immunity.