mexican societal values

i thought i’d dip into the world values survey again to see what mexicans think/feel about certain behavioral norms/illegal activities in society as compared to americans (both white and black).

we’ve seen before that mexicans of all colors are less civic-minded than white americans, and that mexicans are more extended-family oriented than white americans (see also here). but what do mexicans think about the breaking of certain laws in society? how justifiable do they feel certain actions might be?

i looked at the world values survey 2005 and 2006 for the u.s. and mexico (you can read all about the two surveys in the technical reports here — they appear to be sound surveys to me). what i looked at were four of the “justifiable” questions:

Please tell me for each of the following statements whether you think it can always be justified, never be justified, or something in between [on a scale from 1 to 10, never to always]:

– Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled.
– Avoiding a fare on public transport.
– Cheating on taxes if you have a chance.
– Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties.

here are the results of those who answered “Never justifiable” by sub-population for each of the questions. moreno oscuro=dark mestizo, moreno claro=light mestizo. i left out the indigenous group in mexico because the sample size was too small. the sample sizes are n=ca. 130-830.

– Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - mexico & u.s. - justifiable - government benefits

so only ca. 30-40% of mexicans (depending on their skin color) think that claiming gov’t benefits to which one is not entitled is never justifiable. otoh, nearly 70% of white americans think such a behavior is never justifiable.

– Avoiding a fare on public transport. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - mexico & u.s. - justifiable - avoiding fare

again, a ten to twenty point difference between the various mexican sub-groups and white americans.

– Cheating on taxes if you have a chance. – Never justfiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - mexico & u.s. - justifiable - cheating on taxes

the ranges are closer wrt cheating on taxes, but still, more white americans feel it’s never justifiable than these three various groups of mexicans.

– Someone accepting a bribe in the course of their duties. – Never justifiable.

wvs - 2005 2006 - mexico & u.s. - justifiable - accepting a bribe

again, at least a ten, if not twenty, point spread between when it comes to thinking bribe taking can be justifiable.

it seems, then, that most mexicans — from white mexicans to dark-skinned mestizos (don’t know about the purely indigenous groups) — more ofen than white americans, feel that various types of cheating in society can be justified to some degree or another.

previously: civicness in mexico and familism in the u.s. of a. and anglo-american vs. mexican family values and hispanic family values

(note: comments do not require an email. likelihood of bribing mexican traffic police.)

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8 Comments

  1. I explored some of the WVS data myself (in the “Claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled” category) and what I found most curious if not surprising was not the differences between various countries, which for the most part were as expected, but the downwards trend in much of the world including the US. For instance, while 65% still think it’s never justifiable today, back in 1995 it was at 75%.

    This was not just the US but many (I think most) other countries too. For instance while in China in 2007 this was at 32%, back in 1990 it was at 74%!

    Of course changes in ethnic composition can’t explain such a shift. It looks like there is some real data for making the case that moral/ethical decline is a real process today, as opposed to just something that the older generation always accused the younger of.

    Reply

  2. It’s interesting to see where blacks are more law-abiding than Mexicans and where they’re equally or even more lawless.

    Seems like they take their welfare very seriously.

    Reply

  3. @anatoly – “…the downwards trend in much of the world including the US.”

    progress, eh? =/

    did you write a post on the topic? did i totally miss it?!

    Reply

  4. i forgot to mention in the post that it’s also interesting that, in mexico, the pattern seems to be: dark-skinned mestizos most ok with cheating on these things, light-skinned mestizos not so much, and white mexicans the least ok with all this cheating. the pattern doesn’t hold for the “cheating on taxes” question, but it does for all the others.

    Reply

  5. People who have never paid any taxes may be simply guessing…

    I also suspect cultural data out of China even now, let alone 1990. The surveyors are clearly trying very hard, but ask yourself – would you answer any question truthfully in China of 1990?

    Reply

  6. @hbdchick,

    No, I didn’t, probably won’t do so either, so feel free to take it over if you wish!

    In general the WVS is a fascinating resource and exploring it in much greater depth (and of course jotting it down) is on my to do list.

    I am actually doing some fundamental reorganization and updates to my blog before relaunching regular blogging again. That should hopefully come by Jan 20 or so.

    Reply

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