La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to 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,


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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