Markets make people better. Not many people seem to think so these days, but the idea got a boost from a recent piece of research by Dan Ariely and others, which compared moral behaviour in Germans brought up in East and West Germany.
The team found that those with an East German background cheated twice as much as those raised in the capitalist West. The East Germans regularly lied about their success on a task throwing dice. Older subjects, with more experience of life under socialism, cheated the most. Those who had lived for 20 years or more under socialism were 65 per cent more likely to cheat than West Germans. This supported earlier work showing East Germans approved far more of cheating on taxes, although that criminal propensity appeared to be eliminated after seven years of reunification. Continue reading