Bowl Alone, Fight Corruption


A neat little study just out from the National Burea of Economic Research shows the value of bowling alone and being suspicious of your neighbors just because they're different from you. The author of the working paper–whose conclusions I am about to casually distort for the sake of a punchline–examines Indonesian villagers' beliefs about corruption on a road-building project.

Of particular interest:

"Ethnically heterogeneous villages have higher perceived corruption levels but lower actual levels of missing expenditures." … "Villagers in more ethnically heterogeneous villages are less likely to report trusting their fellow villagers, and more likely to attend project monitoring meetings, than those in homogeneous village."

The study also points out that lots of social participation makes people less likely to believe there's corruption, but corruption is just as likely to be present among these goody-two-shoes joiners as among their less civic-minded brethren. Plus, being overly suspicious has benefits. Among the conclusions: "Biases in individual's views about corruption can lead to increased monitoring behavior, which in turn reduces corruption."

So go ahead, America. Keep our nation clean and wholesome by being your ethnically heterogeneous, socially-isolated, distrustful selves.

NEXT: Japan's Stealth Freaks

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  1. whose conclusions I am about to casually distort for the sake of a punchline

    This is a disclaimer I wish I saw more often. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

  2. /

    [“..lots of social participation makes people less likely to believe there’s corruption, but corruption is just as likely to present..”]

    ..Hmmm, does the grand “social participation” of voting in public elections prompt those ‘voters’ to be much more trusting of politicians & government — and therefore less likely to notice corruption ?

    Since only about half the American public ‘votes’ regularly … perhaps the abstainers have a more realistic view of politics & government {?}

  3. Don’t fffffhuck with de Jesus.
    (licks bowling ball)

  4. I like to drink alone, and I am available for study.
    Bring Scotch.

  5. If you sleep in a wet bed, you sleep with Osama.

    (They didn’t get it on a different thread, so I thought I’d try it here.)

  6. WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. “In time of peace prepare for war” has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end – that change is the one immutable and eternal law – but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth. It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his “stately pleasure dome” – when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu – that he

    heard from afar
    Ancestral voices prophesying war.

    One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of “hands across the sea,” and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.

  7. So Indian villagers whose hometowns have both a Muslim and Hindu section are socially atomized, like Americans?

    Er, no, not so much, really. They are just as community-oriented and neighborly as their compatriots in monocultural villages, just within their own geographic and cultural enclaves.

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