Parking tickets, diplomats and corruption

This page in:

What is the link between culture and corruption? Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel looked at the parking violations of UN diplomats in New York City, the size of UN missions and the ranking of countries in TI's Corruption Perceptions Index. Their conclusion, which many will no doubt take issue with, is that:

A certain amount of corruption is grounded in culture and immune to carrots and sticks.

Scandinavian countries, which perennially rank among the least corrupt in the corruption index, had the fewest unpaid tickets. There were just 12 from the 66 diplomats from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Almost all of these tickets went to one bad Finn.

Chad and Bangladesh, at the bottom of the corruption index, were among the worst scofflaws. They shirked 1,243 and 1,319 tickets, respectively, in spite of the fact that their UN missions were many times smaller than those of the Scandinavians.

In fact, there is a remarkable concordance between the number of unpaid violations and a country's corruption ranking. This strongly suggests that one's background and experiences, what we might call culture, does indeed contribute to bad behavior.

Here is the working paper. Also see Fisman's work on estimating the value of political connections - which is included in our reading list on the cost of corruption. Another fun UN-corruption paper is 'How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth.'

Would you agree that TI's CPI score is an accurate measure of culture?

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000