Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Parking Tickets and Red Cards Can Tell US About Corruption?

Economists Ray Fisman (Columbia University) and Edward Miguel (California University) have a new book, Economic Gangster: Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nation.
Chris Blattman, interviews the two authors over at his blog on their new book. I thought it might be a good opportunity to discuss their two greatest hits.

The first was a paper written a few years ago that measure the relationship between diplomatic parking tickets in New York City and corruption. As I understand it, diplomats at the UN could be issued parking tickets, but did not have to pay them. Fisman and Miguel, found that more corrupt countries like Chad and Bangladesh had over a 1,000 parking tickets, while less corrupt countries like those in Scandinavia had a dozen or less. This might be helpful since parking tickets are easier to measure than corruption. Apparently also countries that have a less favorable view of the US also had more parking tickets.

Miguel is also the lead author on another paper that links the issuing of red cards in international soccer matches and violence within a country. For non-soccer fans red cards are issued when a player commits a severe foul, receiving a red card forces the player to leave the game and the team to play a man short. The paper finds that countries with more violence have soccer players that receive more red cards.

I look forward to reading the book. I’ll end with this bit of advice from Fisman from the Blattman interview: “I always tell graduate students that if they want innovative thesis ideas, to read the newspaper, not the economics literature. This is a case in point. You usually don’t get exciting new research ideas while reading Econometrica.”
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