Fisman and Miguel decided to use the distribution of parking tickets to diplomats in New York as a lens to study how cultural norms and practices influence the prevalence of corruption. They find that diplomats from countries with higher rates of corruption were more likely to accumulate unpaid parking violations, revealing that cultural norms do impact the persistence of corruption. Additionally, they find that once law enforcement stopped allowing diplomats to avoid paying for tickets, the rates of corruption went down, indicating that law enforcement, if used properly, can help curb corruption.
I thought this was a really interesting way of studying corruption. Because of the complex nature of corruption, most other literature uses much more subjective indicators to measure it. However, this work was based primarily in data, giving the experiment relatively high levels of internal validity and providing empirical evidence for their claims. For this reason, this was probably my favorite reading from this week.