Country Corruption and Unpaid Parking Tickets

I’m such a sucker for these kinds of data-driven bits of economic dumpster diving: Two economists studied unpaid parking tickets over time to New York City diplomats. As most people will know, diplomatic immunity generally means that such people don’t have to pay their tickets, so the result is a kind of live experiment wherein people demonstrate via real-world behavior their level of corruption.

Here are the top ten offending countries:

And here is a fascinating graph plotting country corruption against (the log of) unpaid parking tickets per diplomat:

This all makes we wish we had more transparency on unpaid parking tickets to Wall Street investment bankers, analysts, public company CEOs, and politicians. I think we could really be onto something here.


  1. Paul, there is a group called Transparency International which does systematic surveys of global business execs and country analysts and develops a formal index of corruption perception. I think Chad is the worst, Iceland the best. The US is not in the least 10 corrupt. Our lobbyists and soft money cause other forms of “corruption” – way beyond parking tickets and lap dances -)

  2. Although I too would love to see a corr. btw unpaid parking tix and the other people buckets you mention, the challenge here is that non-diplomats will get their rides towed if their tix aren’t paid. This might introduce some noise into the analysis.
    Fun stuff!