La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to michelledion.com/blog. Visit my other website.

Sunday, July 31, 2005




Mexicans prefer bribes to obeying the law

According to a study mentioned in a short news article, Mexicans prefer to "arreglar" or fix things rather than follow the law. Thirty-nine percent prefer extra-legal resolutions to problems.

This attitude is rational. When you can pay a US$5 bribe in 5 minutes with no chance of penalties for the bribe to avoid paying a $25 fine that will take 4 hours, you choose the bribe. Indeed, the best advice to get out of paying a bribe for a traffic violation is often to demand to go pay the fine. The argument is that the officer will not want to lose valuable bribe-time by waiting around the station for you to pay. It's a perfect example of poor institutional design leading individuals to find work-arounds. Explaining how such poor institutions lead to economic inefficiency and underdevelopment is, in part, how Douglass North earned a Nobel prize. And it makes sense.

Troubling, but not surprising, is the attitude Mexicans have about politicians.

38% agreed with the statement, "Un político pobre es un pobre político" [A politician's that's poor is a poor politician].

24% believed that honesty was the key to success in politics, compared to 43% who believed politicians had to be corrupt or very corrupt to succeed.

Such little trust in politicians and government is bound to have all sorts of negative effects on long-term democracy.


posted by Michelle @ 12:58 PM,

4 Comments:

At 8/01/2005 12:35 AM, Blogger PRB said...

Does the story say anything about the study's methodology? My Spanish is a little rusty.

 
At 8/01/2005 12:37 AM, Blogger PRB said...

While I'm at it: Are you going to APSA this year?

 
At 8/01/2005 12:16 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

No, the story does not. And I didn't look for the original online b/c it's probably not posted. No, I don't plan to go to APSA this year. There's a conference the next week at Northwestern that looks more interesting to me.

But I'll be at the midwest in April probably.

 
At 8/01/2005 12:21 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ok. Did a quick search. The PI does have a homepage of sorts, but study is not listed or discussed. Typical.

 

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