As far as long-standing feuds go, the tiffle between the City and the U.N. over diplomatic immunity for parking tickets is always a good one. Currently the tab for diplomats unpaid parking ticket bill runs to 18 million, not much of which Gotham is likely to see anytime soon. But at least now some clever researchers have put all those tickets to some good use. In a paper [PDF] for the National Bureau for Economic Research, Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel have found that the number of parking tickets that a country's diplos accumulate is a swell way to measure the corruption found in their home countries. From the papers abstract:

Diplomatic immunity means there was essentially zero legal enforcement of diplomatic parking violations, allowing us to examine the role of cultural norms alone. This generates a revealed preference measure of corruption based on real-world behavior for government officials all acting in the same setting. We find tremendous persistence in corruption norms: diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations.

Biggest surprise to us? Some countries actually do pay their parking tickets. Like Canada, Norway and... Colombia?