Podcast of the Day- Diplomats and Parking fine corruption

The Case of the Unpaid Parking Ticket- podcast of the Tim Harford article in Slate.

Or listen to a Tim’s interview discussing the issue online;

“There's a depressing conclusion and there's an optimistic conclusion. The depressing conclusion is there's nothing you can do about corruption because, well, you know, these guys from Chad and Bangladesh, they're just corrupt. That's what a lot of people, I think, have read this paper and thought that. But I take a different view. Because there's a kicker right at the end of the paper, which is what happened when the law changed. There was the Clinton-Schumer Amendment in 2002. It meant that, OK, you couldn't fine people for committing parking violations. But you could, and you would, tow their cars. And you would actually deduct the parking fines from each country's allocation of foreign aid. So they really started to take a stand on this.

And guess what? Personal morality matters, but enforcing the law matters, too. Because when the amendment was passed, all of these parking violations, by all of these ambassadors, immediately fell by 90 percent. So there is hope for improving the world and stamping out corruption after all.”

There was an interesting letter in this week’s The Economist;

“SIR – In international events bronze medallists usually get little attention (“A ticket for corruption”, August 12th). However, when describing a new corruption ranking based on parking violations by UN diplomats you singled out Chad, the third-highest offender, and ignored Kuwait, the gold winner, which had twice as many infractions. I take solace in finding that my country's diplomats committed zero violations. Manuel Navas, Bogotá, Colombia”


Diplomats and parking fines;

“A study* by Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel, economists at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, gives a rare picture of how people from different cultures perform under new cultural norms. For instance, between 1997 and 2002 diplomats from Chad averaged 124 unpaid parking violations; diplomats from Canada and the United Kingdom had none. The results from 146 countries were strikingly similar to the Transparency International corruption index, which rates countries by their level of perceived sleaze. In the case of parking violations, diplomats from countries with low levels of corruption behaved well, even when they could get away with breaking the rules. The culture of their home country was imported to New York, and they acted accordingly.

The same applied to high-corruption countries. Their diplomats became increasingly comfortable with parking where they liked; as they spent more time in New York, their number of violations increased by 8-18%. Overall, diplomats accumulated 150,000 unpaid parking tickets during the five years under review.

Yet any moral superiority New Yorkers may feel should be tempered by the behaviour of the American embassy in London. Last year, embassy staff stopped paying the congestion charge—now £8, or over $15—for bringing cars into central London. The growing pile of unpaid charges now stands at $716,000.”

Blogs discussing the above paper; PSD blog, Marginal Revolution, Healthcare Economist

How Did Suharto Steal $35 Billion?

Why Is Chicago So Corrupt?

UN Diplomats Owe $18 Million in Parking Tickets

In The Economist this Week: Katrina, FEMA, and Corruption

The Oil-for-Food Scandal

Adventures in Cheating-A guide to buying term papers online

Some recent columns of Tim Harford;
Explaining the huge rise in teen oral sex
'Product sabotage' helps consumers
Overpaid, underworked and in charge


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on September 9, 2006 12:29 AM.

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