FGV launches an indicator that evaluates Brazilians? perceptions on law enforcement

10 May 2013

It is common to hear that, in Brazil, the laws were made not to be met, or that the Brazilians find a way out of everything, or even that it is very easy to circumvent the rules. Paradoxically, these feelings live with the certainty that a strong democracy and a solid Rule of Law are related to the respect for the established rules.


To ascertain the truth of these feelings and collaborate with public policies in order to strengthen institutions, the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CPJA) at FGV?s Law School in São Paulo, DIREITO GV, released the IPCLBrasil (Law Enforcement Perception Index) to assess the degree of Brazilians? perception regarding respect for the laws and the orders of some authorities.


The first survey covered the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, covering eight Brazilian states: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Bahia, Pernambuco, Amazonas and Distrito Federal.


The IPCLBrasil includes two sub-indexes. The first, the Perception Sub-index includes four indicators: legitimacy, instrumentality, social control and morality. The other ICPLBrasil component is the Behavior Sub-index, comprised of questions that seek to assess the frequency with which respondents reported having behaviors that violate rules of social coexistence and the law.


The IPCLBrasil result was 7.3 - on a scale of 0 to 10.


The Brazilian way (jeitinho brasileiro)


The indicator of legitimacy assessed the opinion of respondents on the importance of obeying the law, the police and judges. And one of the conclusions was that 82% of Brazilians recognize that it is easy to disobey laws in Brazil, while 79% agree that, whenever possible, the Brazilian citizen appeals to the Brazilian way.


These data seem to indicate that obedience to the laws in Brazil still requires a justification, Professor Luciana Gross Cunha, coordinator of the research, explains.


On the other hand, 80% of respondents consider that someone who disobeys the law is poorly viewed by others, while 81% said that people have a moral obligation to pay a certain amount to another person, even if he/she disagrees with the decision, if the order comes from a judge. This percentage drops to 43% if the order comes from a police officer. These answers were given mostly by people up to 34 years old and with a high education level.


Purchasing pirate products


In order to create the instrumentality indicator, the survey tried to find out the population's perception on the likelihood of respondents to be punished if they adopt certain behaviors. For 80% of respondents, taking cheap items from a store without paying will very likely result in punishment, and 79% of respondents considered that if they drink and drive, they will be punished. Finally, 78% of respondents said that it is possible to get a parking ticket for parking in forbidden areas.


On the other hand, only 54% of respondents said it is likely or very likely that purchasing a pirate CD or DVD will result in punishment. These results show that there is little incentive to comply with the rule to buy only original products, Luciana says.


The indicator of social control reveals how much people close to the respondents would disapprove of their attitude if they adopted any illegal behavior. The one with the highest disapproval, with 90% of respondents, is taking cheap items from a store without paying, then for drinking and driving, with 88%, and giving money to a police officer or other employee to avoid a ticket, with 87% of disapproval. The situation that would present, according to the respondents, the less social disapproval is buying pirate products, since only 64% of the respondents considered that their conduct would be rejected by their peers. The second situation that would be less socially disapproved is to cross the street outside the crosswalk. For 44% of respondents, people they know would show little or no disapproval at all for this behavior, and therefore there are few incentives to comply with the law in this case.


Right and wrong


The last indicator that makes up the perception sub-index questions the morality of certain behaviors, that is, if the misconduct in certain situations is right or wrong. The situations that were mentioned by 99% of respondents as wrong or very wrong were drinking and driving, littering, carry items from a store without paying and parking in a prohibited area all with a morality indicator of 99%.


As for the conduct of buying pirate CD or DVD, it was considered wrong or very wrong by only 91% of respondents. And crossing the street outside the crosswalk is a conduct identified as wrong or very wrong by 94% of respondents.


Income and education


Another interesting data is that the index shows the inverse relationship between income and the respondent's perception of law enforcement: the higher the income of the respondent, the lower the IPCLBrasil.


The respondents who earned up to two minimum wages presented a higher law enforcement perception level (7.6) than those who earned more than 12 minimum wages, with 7.2. This situation is seen again in the behavior sub-index (respondents with lower incomes had a sub-index of 9, compared with 8.5 of higher income ones) and in the perception index (7.2 versus 6.9).


As for Education Level, the respondents who have low education presented the highest Legal Compliance Perception Index (7.5), in contrast to respondents with medium and high education (7.0 and 7.1, respectively).


About the Centre for Applied Legal Research


The Centre for Applied Legal Research at FGV?s Law School in São Paulo, DIREITO GV, was created in October 2011 to promote studies and research focused on the consistency and effectiveness of institutions and legal institutions, through the production of qualitative and quantitative data to help diagnose social reality.

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