Diplomatic Parking Law Offenders Not Fans of Uncle Sam

Diplomats from countries where high proportions of people hate the United States are more likely to break New York City parking laws, according to a new report, "Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets."

The study cites officials from both Egypt and Pakistan as top parking offenders. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, the anti-American sentiment in both countries runs high. The study's main focus, however, was on the correlation between corruption in a diplomat's home country to parking violations.

"We found that diplomats from high corruption countries have significantly more parking violations, and these differences persist over time," said Raymond Fisman, Columbia University Business School Professor and co-author of the study, which links unpaid fines to corruption.

Kuwait, Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Bulgaria, Mozambique and Nigeria top the 146-country list of unpaid violations from 1997 to 2002, according to the report.

Parking fines in the Big Apple provided the authors an ideal research lab because diplomatic immunity meant there was essentially zero legal enforcement, which allowed them to examine the role of cultural norms alone. 

The study notes that offenses dropped once New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cracked down in 2002 and started towing delinquent vehicles regardless of their diplomatic licenses. However, post-enforcement violations were still correlated with country-level corruption, said Fisman.

So which countries paid their dues?

Squeaky clean Norway, Japan, Sweden and Turkey averaged zero unpaid tickets per diplomat, according to the study, along with Great Britain, Panama and Canada.

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