!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2006/parking.gif! “What makes officials corrupt?”:http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200610/primarysources _Disentangling law and culture is a tricky business, but a pair of economists have come up with an ingenious way to do it: studying the frequency of parking violations committed by diplomats in New York City. Since, as their study reports, there is “essentially zero legal enforcement of diplomatic parking violations,” the authors hypothesized that any cross-national variation in parking-violation rates should flow from culture alone. And sure enough, diplomats from countries with high levels of corruption were significantly more likely to incur parking tickets, suggesting that cultural factors rather than legal norms drive a great deal of official misconduct._ (via “kottke.org”:http://kottke.org)
More interestingly, the number of parking tickets of diplomats from corrupt countries increased with their stay in New York, implying that the diplomats took some time to make sure they weren’t going to get caught, then went all out. So, a deterrent would lower corruption, even if it can’t stop it.
The actual report: “Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets”:http://www.nber.org/papers/w12312, Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel, Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley. The report has a few interesting points:
bq. It is possible there are stronger social sanctions – for example, public embarrassment through the media upon returning home – in low corruption countries against diplomats who commit many parking violations while in New York, relative to diplomats from high corruption countries.
This is a excercise that one of the many Pakistani news channels needs to start.
bq. …societies that collectively place less importance on rooting out corruption, and thus have weak anti-corruption social norms, may simultaneously have less legal enforcement. Understanding the real causes of corruption is of central importance in reforming economic and social institutions: *if corruption is predominantly norm-based, interventions that focus exclusively on boosting legal reforms will likely fail.*
The report concludes that *The most important message of our main result is that corruption norms are sticky.* The diplomats representing us take their corruption norms along with them, thus it makes it doubly important to send out relatively “uncorrupt” officials to represent corrupt nations.
h4. related links
* “Transparency International Global Corruption Report”:http://www.transparency.org/publications/gcr/download_gcr
* “The News special report on corruption”:http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2006-weekly/nos-01-10-2006/spr.htm