In a great paper for the National Bureau for Economic Research, two researchers have found that the number of parking tickets that legally-immune foreign diplomats acummulate in NYC and refuse to pay is a great measure of how corrupt their home countries are. Corruption rank Country Violations per diplomat 1 Kuwait 246.2 2 Egypt 139.6 ...
In a great paper for the National Bureau for Economic Research, two researchers have found that the number of parking tickets that legally-immune foreign diplomats acummulate in NYC and refuse to pay is a great measure of how corrupt their home countries are.
|Corruption rank||Country||Violations per diplomat|
The paper ranks country corruption according to the number of parking violations per country diplomat, and finds that the results match up remarkably well with findings from rough survey-based estimates on the topic. Who are the worst violators? Kuwait blew away the competition with a whopping average of 246 unpaid parking tickets per diplomat over a 5 year period. Diplomats from countries famed for their good political behavior like Canada, Sweden, and Norway didn’t have any unpaid tickets. And countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America – regions widely accused of corruption – all had countries at both the top and bottom of the ranking. Some of the surprises? Colombian and Ugandan diplomats paid up almost all their tickets, while the Italians are overdue on about 15 unpaid tickets per diplomat.
The study also finds that officials from countries that have unfavorable views of the US tend to commit more violations. Apparently, when placed in a “zero legal enforcement” scenario, foreign diplomats in New York start behaving like they would at home:
Diplomatic immunity means there was essentially zero legal enforcement of diplomatic parking violations, allowing us to examine the role of cultural norms alone. This generates a revealed preference measure of corruption based on real-world behavior for government officials all acting in the same setting. We find tremendous persistence in corruption norms: diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations.
UN diplomats as a whole owe New York City over $18 million in unpaid parking fines – and they’re complaining about the city’s efforts to crackdown on these violations. Said Brazil’s Jose Selicio a few years ago:
Diplomatic immunity, Mr. Chairman, is like virginity. Either you have it or you have not. I have not seen a half-virgin.
Was he worried about paying up or preserving internationalism? Likely the former. Brazil ranks 29th in the world corruption ranking, with about 30 unpaid tickets per diplomat.
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