Free Market Virtues
After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.
This is from “Lying Commies,” The Economist, July 19.
In my book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey, I have a chapter titled “Market Virtues and Community,” in which I make the case that free markets encourage basic virtues. Now comes this study that suggests that socialism/communism does the opposite.
It reminds of what I experienced while playing volleyball regularly for a number of years with a number of people who had left a Communist country in the early 1980s. I don’t want to be too specific about the country or where we played volleyball because I live in a relatively small community and some of these people, despite what I’m about to say, I considered friends. We would often have disputes about whether a ball landed on this or that side of the line and my friends from this particular Communist country would ALWAYS call it their way. In over 100 days of playing over a few years, I can’t remember an exception to this rule. The other players, not from Communist countries, would at least occasionally call it against their own interest.