Parking Tickets and Corruption

New York City, home to the United Nations and many foreign diplomats, has famously coped with the problem of diplomats racking up comically high numbers of parking tickets. Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel have made a good lemonade from these lemons, writing a paper that explores the correlation between a given country’s level of corruption and its diplomats’ willingness to incur tickets. Their conclusion:

We find tremendous persistence in corruption norms: diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations. In a second main result, officials from countries that survey evidence indicates have less favorable popular views of the United States commit significantly more parking violations, providing nonlaboratory evidence on the role that sentiment and affinity play in economic decision-making.

Hat tip: James Erlandson and the Private Sector Development Blog.

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COMMENTS: 32


  1. mjs says:

    In London, diplomats of both the US and Germany are refusing to pay the Congestion Charge, arguing that it’s a tax, and that as diplomats, they shouldn’t have to pay it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1832044,00.html

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  2. mjs says:

    In London, diplomats of both the US and Germany are refusing to pay the Congestion Charge, arguing that it’s a tax, and that as diplomats, they shouldn’t have to pay it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1832044,00.html

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  3. jcl says:

    Solution: tow it if it’s illegally parked. No tickets involved at all. Just the time and inconvenience of “Dude, Where’s My Car” action.

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  4. jcl says:

    Solution: tow it if it’s illegally parked. No tickets involved at all. Just the time and inconvenience of “Dude, Where’s My Car” action.

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  5. dg says:

    The disagreement between London mayor Ken Livingstone and the US embassy over the congestion charge is not analogous to unpaid parking tickets. It’s mostly driven by London politics.

    The London mayor is always looking for a fight with the Americans because it appeals to a big segment of his core supporters. (He similarly looks for extended disputes with a specific religious group, also because it plays well with a segment of his constituency.)

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  6. dg says:

    The disagreement between London mayor Ken Livingstone and the US embassy over the congestion charge is not analogous to unpaid parking tickets. It’s mostly driven by London politics.

    The London mayor is always looking for a fight with the Americans because it appeals to a big segment of his core supporters. (He similarly looks for extended disputes with a specific religious group, also because it plays well with a segment of his constituency.)

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  7. Don says:

    Red Kennie, our mayor. He doesn’t dislike all Americans. He hired an American from the New York subways to help fight the battle against privatisation of the London Tube. Next week he’s invited Hugo Chavez in for a visit, mostly to give Tony Blair a thumb in the eye. He recently had to serve a month’s suspension for telling a Jewish Journalist that he reminde him of a Nazi Concentration Camp guard. I think Livingston has trouble holding his drink.

    Kind of a mixed blessing, is Kennie.

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  8. Don says:

    Red Kennie, our mayor. He doesn’t dislike all Americans. He hired an American from the New York subways to help fight the battle against privatisation of the London Tube. Next week he’s invited Hugo Chavez in for a visit, mostly to give Tony Blair a thumb in the eye. He recently had to serve a month’s suspension for telling a Jewish Journalist that he reminde him of a Nazi Concentration Camp guard. I think Livingston has trouble holding his drink.

    Kind of a mixed blessing, is Kennie.

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  9. jglickman says:

    i personally don’t understand diplomatic immunity at all, i mean is rewarding criminal behavior really a good way to show good will?

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  10. jglickman says:

    i personally don’t understand diplomatic immunity at all, i mean is rewarding criminal behavior really a good way to show good will?

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  11. leliathomas says:

    I think I can sum this up beautifully. Politicians are corrupt. Period, the end.

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  12. leliathomas says:

    I think I can sum this up beautifully. Politicians are corrupt. Period, the end.

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  13. PlantKing says:

    Lelia, that’s crazy talk. Who ever heard of a corrupt politician?!?

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  14. PlantKing says:

    Lelia, that’s crazy talk. Who ever heard of a corrupt politician?!?

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  15. blou888 says:

    Well…not all politicians are corrupt… Some are just ignorant while others are just plain stupid and willing to only popular opinion and getting elected.

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  16. blou888 says:

    Well…not all politicians are corrupt… Some are just ignorant while others are just plain stupid and willing to only popular opinion and getting elected.

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  17. blou888 says:

    And to PlantKing:

    Are you a politician?

    Only joking! Only Joking!

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  18. blou888 says:

    And to PlantKing:

    Are you a politician?

    Only joking! Only Joking!

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  19. Blandy says:

    PlantKing,

    If you want to be enlightened about corrupt politicians, have a look at what’s going on in Australia with the Australian Wheat Board and exports to Iraq.

    Sometimes the best way to cope with Australian politics is just to laugh at it (a la Bill Bryson), other times it’s just too confusing.

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  20. Blandy says:

    PlantKing,

    If you want to be enlightened about corrupt politicians, have a look at what’s going on in Australia with the Australian Wheat Board and exports to Iraq.

    Sometimes the best way to cope with Australian politics is just to laugh at it (a la Bill Bryson), other times it’s just too confusing.

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  21. jonathan says:

    Don, Ken Livingstone hasn’t served a month’s suspension for his comments – he is currently appealing the decision on the grounds of the body concerned has no authority to prevent him carrying out his elected duties.
    He didn’t say the journalist reminded him of a concentration camp guard, he said the defence that pestering him and his partner was ‘only following orders’ reminded him of a concentration guard’s excuses.

    dg: the London v US diplomats scenario is not driven by London politics. Anyone who drives through the centre of London has to pay the congestion charge. It’s the diplomats who are playing politics.

    Considering the charge has led to a reduction in traffic in the capital, and diplomatic cars can now get to places faster, it only seems fair that the richest country in the world should contribute to the scheme, doesn’t it?
    The money owed by the US to London could help pay for the extra security their presence warrants, or upkeep of the parks the staff and their families no doubt enjoy…

    Using ‘diplomatic immunity’ is a bit of a lame excuse. If you’re going to play that card for a traffic offence, what else are you going to try? It makes diplomats look dodgy. Their actions have caused the US’s image in the UK untold harm, all for the sake of $10 a day.

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  22. jonathan says:

    Don, Ken Livingstone hasn’t served a month’s suspension for his comments – he is currently appealing the decision on the grounds of the body concerned has no authority to prevent him carrying out his elected duties.
    He didn’t say the journalist reminded him of a concentration camp guard, he said the defence that pestering him and his partner was ‘only following orders’ reminded him of a concentration guard’s excuses.

    dg: the London v US diplomats scenario is not driven by London politics. Anyone who drives through the centre of London has to pay the congestion charge. It’s the diplomats who are playing politics.

    Considering the charge has led to a reduction in traffic in the capital, and diplomatic cars can now get to places faster, it only seems fair that the richest country in the world should contribute to the scheme, doesn’t it?
    The money owed by the US to London could help pay for the extra security their presence warrants, or upkeep of the parks the staff and their families no doubt enjoy…

    Using ‘diplomatic immunity’ is a bit of a lame excuse. If you’re going to play that card for a traffic offence, what else are you going to try? It makes diplomats look dodgy. Their actions have caused the US’s image in the UK untold harm, all for the sake of $10 a day.

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  23. mikej says:

    The congestion charge represents an effort to use market forces to deal with a difficult problem in London. Lots better than banning vehicles from the city center, for instance. Too bad the US, that bastion of the free market (or is it actually just a nest of crony capitalists?), chooses not to accept a market solution to a public problem.

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  24. mikej says:

    The congestion charge represents an effort to use market forces to deal with a difficult problem in London. Lots better than banning vehicles from the city center, for instance. Too bad the US, that bastion of the free market (or is it actually just a nest of crony capitalists?), chooses not to accept a market solution to a public problem.

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  25. Zak says:

    They should use the same tow company at our apartment complex… those limos will NEVER ride the same again. Even if the charges are reversed, the “indignity” of having a diplomat stand in line for hours at the tow lot with all of the “little people” will be enough to cajole them into compliance.

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  26. Zak says:

    They should use the same tow company at our apartment complex… those limos will NEVER ride the same again. Even if the charges are reversed, the “indignity” of having a diplomat stand in line for hours at the tow lot with all of the “little people” will be enough to cajole them into compliance.

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  27. Zak says:

    They should hire the Lincoln Park Pirates to get under the skin of diplomats.

    From the famous Chicago Song…

    We break into cars when we gotta,
    With hammer and pickaxe and saw;
    And they said this garage had no license;
    But little care I for the law!
    Our drivers are friendly and courteous;
    Their good manners you always will get;
    ‘Cause they all are recent graduates
    Of the charm school in Joliet.

    To me, way, hey, tow them away,
    The Lincoln Park Pirates are we,
    From Wilmette to Gary, there’s nothin’ so hairy
    And we always collect our fee!
    So it’s way, hey, tow ‘em away,
    We plunder the streets of your town,
    Be it Edsel or Chevy, there’s no car too heavy,
    And no one can make us shut down.

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  28. Zak says:

    They should hire the Lincoln Park Pirates to get under the skin of diplomats.

    From the famous Chicago Song…

    We break into cars when we gotta,
    With hammer and pickaxe and saw;
    And they said this garage had no license;
    But little care I for the law!
    Our drivers are friendly and courteous;
    Their good manners you always will get;
    ‘Cause they all are recent graduates
    Of the charm school in Joliet.

    To me, way, hey, tow them away,
    The Lincoln Park Pirates are we,
    From Wilmette to Gary, there’s nothin’ so hairy
    And we always collect our fee!
    So it’s way, hey, tow ‘em away,
    We plunder the streets of your town,
    Be it Edsel or Chevy, there’s no car too heavy,
    And no one can make us shut down.

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  29. StCheryl says:

    Jglickman: Diplomatic immunity was established in order to prevent Country A from trumping up charges against the diplomats from Country B, when Country A does not agree with the policies of, or dislikes the leaders of Country B. It can be expressed in absurd (parking ticket scofflaws) and tragic (the inability to prosecute diplomats and their families for certain serious crimes) ways, raising the dander of the NY Post and other jingoists. And it works both ways. US diplomats are protected by it overseas. That is not a laughing matter for US diplomats in places like some of the former Soviet states.

    Refusing to pay congestion charge is not the first time that this administration has refused to contribute fairly in the world of diplomatic expenses. The US is several hundred million dollars in arrears in its payments to the UN because the Republican administration and Senate leaders are angry that the US cannot bully and dominate the UN and its members.

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  30. StCheryl says:

    Jglickman: Diplomatic immunity was established in order to prevent Country A from trumping up charges against the diplomats from Country B, when Country A does not agree with the policies of, or dislikes the leaders of Country B. It can be expressed in absurd (parking ticket scofflaws) and tragic (the inability to prosecute diplomats and their families for certain serious crimes) ways, raising the dander of the NY Post and other jingoists. And it works both ways. US diplomats are protected by it overseas. That is not a laughing matter for US diplomats in places like some of the former Soviet states.

    Refusing to pay congestion charge is not the first time that this administration has refused to contribute fairly in the world of diplomatic expenses. The US is several hundred million dollars in arrears in its payments to the UN because the Republican administration and Senate leaders are angry that the US cannot bully and dominate the UN and its members.

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  31. Don says:

    jonathan,

    While I agree that the US ought to pay the congestion charge in the interests of amity I believe their point is that it is a tax rather than a charge.

    Thank you for the clarification on Livingston’s suspension. I was working out of town at the time this happened so my access to the news was spotty at the time.

    I was in favor of the charge when it was brought in (easy for me as I don’t own a car and don’t live in the congestion area). But Livingston has been raising the charge massively over the past few years, which is rather unfair I think. It’s now £8 and is due to go to £10 next year. I suppose it’s no less unfair than what’s happened to charges for public transport – but those are unfair as well.

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  32. Don says:

    jonathan,

    While I agree that the US ought to pay the congestion charge in the interests of amity I believe their point is that it is a tax rather than a charge.

    Thank you for the clarification on Livingston’s suspension. I was working out of town at the time this happened so my access to the news was spotty at the time.

    I was in favor of the charge when it was brought in (easy for me as I don’t own a car and don’t live in the congestion area). But Livingston has been raising the charge massively over the past few years, which is rather unfair I think. It’s now ?8 and is due to go to ?10 next year. I suppose it’s no less unfair than what’s happened to charges for public transport – but those are unfair as well.

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