12 December, 2006

Be corrupt? No thanks.

NYT Magazine:
In an ingenious study published in June, however, the Columbia University economist Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel of the University of California at Berkeley argued that culture plays a powerful role. The two scholars studied parking tickets that were racked up in Manhattan by diplomats from 146 countries who were posted to the United Nations. In a situation in which every diplomat essentially received an invitation to be corrupt, diplomats from nations with “clean” governments said, “No, thanks.”
. . .
If incentives trumped culture, you would suppose that diplomats from every nation would cheat. But in fact, attachés from Canada, Ireland, Scandinavian nations and Japan evidently drove around the block till they found a spot. (Diplomats with few or no unpaid tickets also tended to get few tickets, period.) The worst offenders, meanwhile, came from Kuwait (246 unpaid tickets per diplomat), Egypt, Chad, Sudan, Bulgaria, Mozambique, Albania, Angola and Senegal. This behavior correlated strongly with the scores of diplomats’ home countries on a measure of public corruption compiled by World Bank researchers.

Of course, legal incentives were hardly irrelevant: over time, individual diplomats from “clean” countries did cheat more, as they learned how the system worked. But the initial scofflaws’ cheating grew even faster.

The UAE ranked 127 with 3 unpaid tickets per diplomat.


BD said...

It would seem there is a certain degree of logic in what this study presents. I can vouch for the fact, for example, that Japanese tend to have a certain ethic about correct behavior which would not allow them to knowingly behave in anti-social ways. It is something ingrained. As an American I would say similarly that there is an ethic that Americans have about things like littering and wearing seatbelts--and to some extent smoking. Over time it just becomes ingrained that to do such things are uncivilized.

BD said...

...and kudos to the UAE's diplomats. Despite the hammering locals sometimes get from all sides, there are some who set admirably good examples for the rest.

Lirun said...

ok.. only it kind of loses credability when it talks about my pocket.. it says no unpaid fines for israel.. ranking 138.. i dont believe it.. hahahah - we are terrible with these things.. parking laws are mere recommendation.. :)

just serving as a lithmus test for the study..

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