Before a belated crackdown in 2002, the city of New York was an open parking lot for diplomats: Pleading immunity, they were free to pluck tickets from their windshields with nary a thought of paying up. But as their paper trails demonstrate, not all foreigners double-park with the same enthusiasm.
In a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists Raymond Fisman of Columbia University and Edward Miguel of U.C.-Berkeley compare the corruption rankings of 146 nations to the number of unpaid parking tickets each country's diplomats accrued. They find that the worst violators came from states that rank high on corruption indices. The average Kuwaiti diplomat, for example, had 246 unpaid tickets in 1998. Diplomats from the bribe-happy nations of Egypt, Chad, and Sudan were also apt to treat Manhattan as a consular garage.
Fisman and Miguel conclude that corruption is deeply ingrained. But so is law-abidingness: In the total absence of enforcement, diplomats from 22 countries did not incur a single unpaid fine.
Graph (not available online): AVERAGE UNPAID PARKING VIOLATIONS PER DIPLOMAT