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Evolution of Rioting
September 6, 2011 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Collective violence, extending from riots to warfare, presents a challenge to our ordinary understanding of free will. Actions that would rarely be taken by an individual on their own seem to be embraced when supported by a larger group. This can occur in societies ranging from the communist regime of Soviet Russia to the capitalist free market of modern day England. Given this commonality, perhaps the collective violence of a riot can be best understood as a biological event in which evolved cognitive responses encounter a unique environmental threat. And if that is the case, do individuals caught up in such incidents have any choice in the matter?
Freedom to Riot: an evolutionary perspective on collective violence.
posted by Rumple (49 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
“For some reason some kind of force filled me,” testified one of the rioters during his trial. “Until this day, I do not understand how I got into this. What kind of devil was it that asked me to go and forced me to enter into the police department?”

This is precisely what I'd say if on trial in the USSR for rioting against the state, in the faint faint hope that they wouldn't send me away to the gulag. Not sure that this quote means what the article's author wants it to mean.
posted by Frowner at 10:03 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


do individuals caught up in such incidents have any choice in the matter?

Individuals always have a choice. So do individual members of a mob.
posted by Decani at 10:04 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


If there's a challenge to free will, this isn't it.
posted by Behemoth at 10:06 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The American/Western fetishization of the individual is going to doom this discussion.
posted by DU at 10:06 AM on September 6, 2011 [19 favorites]


Oh yes, those silly Americans with their crazy belief that people are "individuals."
posted by John Cohen at 10:08 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would you declare a conversation "doom[ed]" from the outset? If you have something to say, you're free to say it.
posted by John Cohen at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Decani: "do individuals caught up in such incidents have any choice in the matter?

Individuals always have a choice. So do individual members of a mob.
"

Yes, yes, and yes again.

The idea that rioting and looting is some sort of irresistible biological urge is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard.
posted by 2manyusernames at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The general insight, that people behave in a unique way in violent groups, is certainly true and worth investigation, but I have a problem with this kind of thinking in social science:

This scenario is what psychologists refer to as the Elaborated Social Identity Model of crowd behaviour. Each individual remains a rational actor, but has been primed by natural selection to identify with the group during a period of crisis. This well developed ingroup/outgroup bias is what has allowed our species to be the most cooperative of the primates, but certain conditions have the potential to turn us against our own community.

We have almost no evidence of what, exactly, took place in the evolutionary past that "caused" humans to evince these patterns. The writer here is making a big inferential leap in blithely asserting "priming" without even trying to explain what that might actually entail in a genetic/social/evolutionary sense. It's handwaving that leaves the reader no closer to real understanding than before.

The story that follows, which implicates socio-political factors such as food insecurity in dramatic social aggression, is much more interesting and compelling.
posted by clockzero at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will pay $5 to have DU's username changed to "Cassandra."
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of accept the idea of "going along with the flow" as an explanation, but not as an excuse. It is probably true that running with the mob is far safer than bucking against them, but, if this was taken as a excuse for rioting, we get left with, "eh, it's mob violence, what can you do?" which is not very helpful from a legal standpoint...
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:16 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea that rioting and looting is some sort of irresistible biological urge is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard.

You should hear more things.
posted by enn at 10:16 AM on September 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think I did say what I was going to say. If you look around the world and throughout history, you find that not everyone agrees to what extent an individual is free from (or even separate from) the rest of society. A country, such as the US, that marginalizes society and the pressures of, obligations to, expectations of it is obviously going to put the full weight of guilt on any rioter (or any other group member) him- or her-self. But not all societies would do the same.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just for the record, I don't agree with most of the blog post but I did think it was a good example of evolutionary psych trying hard to explain itself in the context of current events.
posted by Rumple at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2011


The point is that, if you can predict that groups of people will riot under certain conditions (and you can, according to the article, which none of you appears to have read), you can work to avoid those conditions, unless you allow yourself to be distracted by the usual litany of moronic bleating about "individual responsibility"—which is a complete red herring when you are considering how systems of social organization ought to work.
posted by enn at 10:22 AM on September 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


As far as I can tell, free will is a convenient fiction, whether you're acting alone or not.

It's telling how quickly the conversation turns to the consequences of not believing in free will. If we had good reasons to believe in free will, then people would simply explain those reasons. Because we don't, they need to say, "But but but how will we rationalize punishing people?"

Of course people act differently in mobs than they do alone. We also act differently when we're hungry or angry or tired or lonely or horny. We act differently based on blood alcohol levels and blood sugar levels, on brain structure, on brain damage, on perceptual difference, etc. etc.

You don't like the consequences of a factual claim? Well, tough. It's completely irrelevant to the veracity of that claim.
posted by callmejay at 10:27 AM on September 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Surely there are mefites besides me who have been in large protests? I mean, I haven't been in a riot, but I've certainly been in large demonstrations full of milling people being tear-gassed, during which windows got broken and dumpsters got dragged into the street.

It's just silly to say that the madness of crowds explains everything.

1. Plenty of people in any large crowd have ideas about what they want to do - take stuff, break stuff, block the delegates' cars, get away safely, etc. Many people are at the riot in small groups who are like-minded.

2. What folks don't understand about this is that riots are slow. They involve a lot of standing around with brief bursts of frantic action. You think from the movies that a riot involves big crowds in continuous action, but it doesn't at all.

3. In my experience being in uncontrolled crowd circumstances (anecdote isn't data, but just if you'd like one person's experience): there were moments of crowd-action where people supported actions they wouldn't do as individuals - ie, cheering when the bank window got broken, standing with arms linked in front of the cops. But it never felt like mindlessness - it felt like mindfulness, being extremely present and in the moment. I have never done or supported via arm-linking, etc anything in a crowd that I didn't intellectually support.

Also, in the crowd I became concerned for the crowd and its members almost without thinking - I got pepper-sprayed full in the face once because a stranger wanted to hand me her camera when the police had already grabbed her, since she knew that her film would disappear otherwise. So I stepped right in front of the cops to take them camera and reached for it across the police line; I didn't think twice. But again, this was something I was intellectually ready for; it wasn't something out of character for me. In the crowd, I've done similar things to put myself in (moderate) danger without thinking about it, just as when I've moved to push someone out of harm's way in a non-crowd situation.

There is an ecstasy of crowds in this; it's a flow state. But it's not random - if a gang of people surged through the halls here shouting that we should smash [Research Institute] I wouldn't get pulled in by deindividuation.

There have been times in a crowd where I've remained acutely outside the crowd - in one demo, for example, where I had to bring someone to safety through a lot of tear gas. There was lots of milling, but I never lost my head; I had a heightened sense of what was going on around me.

I've also been in something that didn't turn into a riot - a speech where there was a VERY large silent angry opposition, and in which I could feel that people wanted to mill and heckle. I had the option to throw something at the (AWFUL, Henry-Kissinger-level-of-evil) speaker, since I was in the front of the group and right in back of a table full of muffins. I knew if I threw a muffin that 1. lots of others would too because I could feel that we all wanted to do something; and that 2. there would be arrests, trouble, etc. I did not throw the muffin, and everyone else seems to have made the same calculation.

TL; DR - there's some half-truth to this whole deindividuation thing. But it's always contoured by 1. the things that bring you to the crowd and 2. who you are the rest of the time. Lab experiments about deindividuation, for example, can only tell you so much because the participants are in a much blanker headspace than if they're rioting for grain or blocking a street.

The reason you're not culpable during a riot is - to my mind - if the riot itself is justified/understandable and if the action is congruent with the riot. So punching your enemy in the head under the cover of the anti-tyrant riot, no, you're culpable.
posted by Frowner at 10:27 AM on September 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


What enn said. "Individual responsibility" is often a euphemism which is used to eclipse important systemic issues and provide a self-righteous avenue for culpability and punishment.
posted by clockzero at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, you see the exact same thing all the time, just applied to government instead. It's not okay for people to be violent, but somehow it becomes okay for the government to be violent, even though it's just made of people. It's not okay to lie, cheat, and steal, but somehow it's okay -- even expected -- if the government does it.

If I don't have the right to kick you out of your house and steal it for my own, I don't think a group of my friends and I suddenly develop that right merely because we're in a group. It doesn't matter how large the group is. If the moral right doesn't exist for any of us as indiividuals, it doesn't exist for all of us in toto.
posted by Malor at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if everyone else jumped off a bridge I'd...have to do it?
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2011


This is absurd. Absolute, complete bullshit. All of these "statistics" and "data" and "numbers" and "facts" completely go against my understanding of reality, and that makes them wrong. People who commit violence are bad, evil people who decided to be violent, because people are always thinking clearly in every situation and never take action based on anything but rational logic. That makes sense and feels good. There can't possibly be any other explanation for it, because that would be complicated and uncomfortable, and anything that makes me uncomfortable isn't true. Also, I know everything.

So, take your "science" elsewhere, Mr. Sciencey Scientist Man.
posted by XerxesQados at 10:32 AM on September 6, 2011 [22 favorites]


If a real behavioral phenomenon is taking place in mob riots then it's worth investigating and worth considering when determining punishment for rioters. The Stanford Prison Experiment effects were real. Stockholm Syndrome is real. What is it about these purported effects of going along with the mob that makes you discount them as not real?
posted by rocket88 at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not so sure that the "psychology behind rioting" is anything more than the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory applied to an offline scenario. You've got the normal guy, surrounded with a crowd that gives him both anonymity AND an audience -- and the additional anonymity afforded by being surrounded by people who are also all doing the same thing -- and he feels more comfortable going ahead and doing whatever thing he wants because he knows he has a better chance of getting away with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Oh, just idly - I always assume that when people take the "madness of crowds/we riot because we're monkeys" angle, they're trying to imply that riots (the form of political expression for the disenfranchised) actually are not political, that rioters (who tend to be disenfranchised) are just acting in animalistic, mindless ways. I don't really see this type of thing (and in Scientific American, which skews right) as arguing "you're not culpable for smashing shit up" at all.)
posted by Frowner at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2011


All those theories work fine until the Mule shows up.
posted by kmz at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I dearly love the casual tossed-off-edness of the conclusory remarks:

Free markets are theoretically designed to be flexible so that they rapidly respond to the needs of individuals and society. If this assumption is flawed we will need an alternative.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:43 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also -- don't forget that whether an event is described as a "riot" or as a "demonstration" depends on a) what happens, and b) who you talk to. I took part in the 2004 protest march outside the Republican national convention its first day in New York -- the one where the guys lit the big dragon puppet on fire, but the rest of the march was really non-eventful. So nearly everyone described that as a "demonstration," but I bet if you talked to a couple of the cops that had to put the puppet out they'd call it a "riot".

(I actually was a few dozen feet away from the puppet when they lit it up, and even then it didn't look very riot-ish to me. But probably because I grabbed the friend I was with and ran like hell to drag him to safety in Macys. which, actually, probably disproves the theory in the OP article anyway.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on September 6, 2011


I feel compelled to comment in this thread for some reason.
posted by davejay at 10:47 AM on September 6, 2011


enn has it. The important idea here is not "omg omg we don't have free will!". Of course we do (or, at least, we tend to believe that we do). But whether we have free will or not, evidence suggests that the condition of our immediate environment has a major effect on the behavior of the people who live in it.

This should be so obvious that denying it borders on obscene, yet there it is: we understand so little about our own care and keeping that we keep our hamster habitrails and litter boxes clean and our dog bowls full of good food, but often neglect -- no, refuse! -- to do the same for our own co-habitation group.
posted by vorfeed at 10:48 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Malor: It's not okay for people to be violent, but somehow it becomes okay for the government to be violent, even though it's just made of people.

Well, yeah.

The monopoly of the legitimate use of force is an attribute of the state by definition:
Politics as a Vocation (Politik als Beruf) by Max Weber. . . introduces a definition of the state that has become pivotal to Western social thought: that the state is that entity which claims a monopoly on violence, which it may therefore elect to delegate as it sees fit.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's telling how quickly the conversation turns to the consequences of not believing in free will. If we had good reasons to believe in free will, then people would simply explain those reasons. Because we don't, they need to say, "But but but how will we rationalize punishing people?"

You don't have to rationalize punishing people for taking part in a riot any differently than any other crime. Some riots may be more excusable than others; I am not comfortable making a parallel between popular uprisings in Soviet Russia and an upper-middle class hissy fit over the outcome of a sporting event. In Vancouver people showed up with the specific intention of rioting and causing mayhem hours in advance, knowing it was a possibility because it happened 15 years ago under similar circumstances. I personally witnessed people who were not at the riot decide to go towards it because they heard it was happening a few blocks away. It is a decision to take part, whether the riot is organized or not. Many people still manage not to get involved.
posted by Hoopo at 11:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoppo's got it. The theory would appear to fail to explain the vast number of citizens who don't join riots.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2011


To be clear, I wasn't taking a position on this particular research. I was just objecting to the way that free will is defended so reflexively by people who seem to be more concerned with maintaining the justification for the existing legal system than they are with the truth. Science should be concerned with what's true, not what's convenient for the legal system.
posted by callmejay at 11:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoppo's got it. The theory would appear to fail to explain the vast number of citizens who don't join riots.

Why should it? A theory like "high food prices make riots more likely" doesn't say anything about people who don't riot, nor does it have to. High food prices do not affect everyone equally, for one thing...
posted by vorfeed at 12:03 PM on September 6, 2011


I read somewhere once (lost in the memory mists) that rioting was recognized as a legitimate right in the early US. That changed sometime, IIRC, 1830's to 1840's.
posted by telstar at 12:26 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why should it? A theory like "high food prices make riots more likely"

That appears to be what the evidence in the article suggests, but it's not his theory or the point he's attempting to make as far as I can tell.
posted by Hoopo at 12:57 PM on September 6, 2011


John Cohen: "Oh yes, those silly Americans with their crazy belief that people are "individuals."

I'm not.
posted by notsnot at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have not had time to RTFA, but one parallel from my own experience springs to mind: the various ecstasies of the Pentecostal (and some Evangelical and Charismatic) church services.

Not only have I seen many otherwise rational people do highly unusual things, I've seen dubious outsiders dragged into these services and do the same unusual things yet be unable to explain afterwards why they did them (and they generally felt pretty ashamed of themselves afterwards as well.)

Anyway, tangential probably. I'll just go and see what the actual article says now....
posted by digitalprimate at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Free will" is one of those terms like "art" or "God" or "democracy" that's routinely, perhaps accidentally redefined in subtle ways such that it exists or doesn't, has or doesn't have whatever property is needed for the argument of the moment.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2011


That appears to be what the evidence in the article suggests, but it's not his theory or the point he's attempting to make as far as I can tell.

I disagree. He's clearly suggesting that environmental stress (caused by high food prices, austerity measures, and budget cuts) leads to collective violence: "Given this commonality, perhaps the collective violence of a riot can be best understood as a biological event in which evolved cognitive responses encounter a unique environmental threat [...] With a peak in both food and energy prices occurring at the same time, the environmental conditions were ideal for a triggering event that would push an already stressed population over into social discord [...] Riots reveal a colony in discord."

What's more, he does not actually deny the role of free choice among individual rioters: "For London and the cities throughout North Africa and the Middle East, it appears there was a free choice to riot after all. But the choice didn’t come from the rioters alone, it rose from leaders and policymakers and the larger society as a whole." [emphasis mine]

I'd personally agree that people do have a choice as to whether or not to join in an ongoing riot. They can also choose to take or forgo actions which might cause a riot to break out. However, they do not have that choice unless there is already a riot, or conditions which could plausibly lead to a riot. Or, in the author's words: "While the psychology of collective behavior may explain why individuals join together once a riot is under way, it doesn’t explain why the riot would begin in the first place."

As for sporting riots and the like: I agree that these seem different, but I think "evolved responses that promote collective violence [...] heavily influenced by environmental stress" about covers them, too. High-stakes games are essentially artificial stressors; combine that with stressors which may already exist in the environment, and it should be no surprise that sporting riots happen. It's worth noting that the Vancouver riots fit the pattern, also. They happened when food prices were extremely high world-wide, and as some have pointed out, they happened after the cost-of-living in Vancouver skyrocketed -- the cost of housing has gone up 50% in just two years. As that blog author points out, "the widening affordability gap in Vancouver is not an excuse for a riot, but it helps to explain why the riot started in the first place."

I find the similarity between those quotes quite telling, personally.
posted by vorfeed at 1:53 PM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


That blog post is...not so good. It wasn't the poor rioting, and the cost of living in Vancouver didn't really skyrocket. There was a period of about a year where the price of homes dropped dramatically, then things continued the same upward trajectory they'd been on for 10 years or more. The cost of living is less than in Toronto, and not much more than in Calgary or Montreal for that matter.
posted by Hoopo at 2:41 PM on September 6, 2011


I see no claim that "the poor" were rioting (in fact, the blog post references working middle class salaries: teachers, nurses). Nor is "things continued the same upward trajectory they'd been on for 10 years or more" inconsistent with a period of high stress, given that wages haven't been on the same upward trajectory. And the cost of housing is most certainly not more in Toronto, nor is it "not much more than in Calgary or Montreal" -- "you can swap an average house in Vancouver for 3.3 average houses in Montreal". Average houses in Vancouver, when compared to the average income, are nearly twice as expensive as average homes in Toronto compared to the average income there. This comparison of several other cost-of-living metrics doesn't support your assertion, either.
posted by vorfeed at 3:03 PM on September 6, 2011


Individuals always have a choice.

Obviously, but let's talk about inclination. Some people get drunk, then get naked and drive donuts in the parking lot. They aren't zombie-compelled by alcohol, but beer goggles can make something they would never normally do seem like an awesome idea. Riot-goggles are like that, a weird, wild impulse. It's much, much harder than normal to stay calm and peaceful in riot conditions. Ordinary calmness looks heroic.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:14 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem is the definition of "free will." From the 'philosophical' perspective free will just means the question of whether or not we are living in a totally deterministic universe.

So for example, do we really have control over what happens in the future, or is everything pre-determined from the positions and velocities of subatomic particles? Or are we puppets being pulled on strings by god? Or do we have autonomous 'souls' that somehow direct the atoms in our body to produce the desired results.

It's totally separate from the question of what does or does not motivate people to make certain choices.

Say for example you have been starving for days, and suddenly a piece of cake is put in front of you. Obviously you'll have a strong desire to eat it. But most people would say you can choose not too.

What psychology tries to do is figure out what most people will do in that situation (Among other things). Not every one will do it, but the fact that most people will doesn't mean they do or don't have "free will" Asking if it pertains to "free will" means you are looking at it on the wrong 'level'

The question then is whether or not being in a mob will make you feel more motivated to engage in 'riotous' behavior, the same way being hungry wants to make you eat.
This is absurd. Absolute, complete bullshit. All of these "statistics" and "data" and "numbers" and "facts" completely go against my understanding of reality, and that makes them wrong. People who commit violence are bad, evil people who decided to be violent, because people are always thinking clearly in every situation and never take action based on anything but rational logic. That makes sense and feels good. There can't possibly be any other explanation for it, because that would be complicated and uncomfortable, and anything that makes me uncomfortable isn't true. Also, I know everything.
Woah woah woah, what if they are rioting against governments that my government doesn't like!?!???
We have almost no evidence of what, exactly, took place in the evolutionary past that "caused" humans to evince these patterns. The writer here is making a big inferential leap in blithely asserting "priming" without even trying to explain what that might actually entail in a genetic/social/evolutionary sense. It's handwaving that leaves the reader no closer to real understanding than before. .
Well, so what? We know humans evolved. So pretty much everything we do biologically 'evolved' as well. But that doesn't mean there is any way of actually knowing why various things evolved. In particular you can have situations where genes evolve because they are in conflict with other genes.

For example, the part of the human genome that's seen the most evolution is actually the genes that control sperm production. Longer-lived sperm makes it more likely to impregnate a woman, so more offspring. But it also makes you more likely to get cancer, so less survival. The genes to make sperm and the genes to kill them have basically been 'fighting' with each-other. But that interplay means you would have no way of knowing exactly how the genes evolved to start with.

Imagine that early humans all loved eachother and there was no violence. This would have been a successful society. But, if one group developed a lack of empathy for groups far away, then this group would be able to plunder other groups and potentially gain an edge, then this type of human would replace the other group and become evolutionarily successful.

It's likely these urges just balanced out over time, and there are probably lots of potential 'local maxima' that humans could get stuck in
posted by delmoi at 3:16 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That blog post is...not so good. It wasn't the poor rioting, and the cost of living in Vancouver didn't really skyrocket. There was a period of about a year where the price of homes dropped dramatically, then things continued the same upward trajectory they'd been on for 10 years or more. The cost of living is less than in Toronto, and not much more than in Calgary or Montreal for that matter.

The footage of the Vancouver riots reminded me a lot like the vibe back in high school. A lot of testosterone, a lot of young men/boys with minimal emotional maturity and a willingness to fight, and a lot of alcohol. I went to bush parties back in the day where people got fucked up in order to fuck other people up, and there were kids who sent home by ambulance. Just a week or so before the Stanley Cup riots, a kid was murdered at a high school grad bush party outside of Kelowna.

Sure, people have a choice, but there are other environmental signals that can shape behaviour.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:29 PM on September 6, 2011


I think we ought to starting thinking about genocidal riots, and mass rape this way too. It seems obvious to me that human nature includes a facility to collective violence. I think we ought to better understand how this facility has been and can be manipulated.
posted by wobh at 8:17 AM on September 7, 2011


And the cost of housing is most certainly not more in Toronto, nor is it "not much more than in Calgary or Montreal

I'm not talking about the cost of housing. In the life of a 20- or 30- something from BC, housing prices being crazy has always been the case for as long as they've seriously been considering buying a home. The cost of housing is astronomical, I'm not debating that, but the cost of living is not. That's actually not unusual, globally speaking.

I would also point out that this article is not talking about the cost of housing either, and I'm not convinced housing prices are an underlying reason for riots. Owning a home would be nice, but having to rent isn't exactly a death sentence the way not being able to afford to eat is.

This comparison of several other cost-of-living metrics doesn't support your assertion, either.

Yes it does. Did you miss the graph at the bottom? The cost of living index is practically the same for both cities. A few more clicks shows Montreal and Calgary not far away. You're cherry-picking stats.
posted by Hoopo at 4:36 PM on September 7, 2011


I would also point out that this article is not talking about the cost of housing either, and I'm not convinced housing prices are an underlying reason for riots. Owning a home would be nice, but having to rent isn't exactly a death sentence the way not being able to afford to eat is.

The article is talking about environmental stress. High housing prices are nearly as stressful as high food prices, especially when they translate to high rent, as they have in Vancouver. As for "cherry-picking stats": all that graph compares is the Consumer Price Index, so it does not count the cost of housing. If you look at the Consumer Price Plus Rent Index you get a much better idea of the actual cost-of-living, which looks like this:

Vancouver 114.93
Toronto : 86.55
Calgary : 86.52
Montreal: 78.38

And just for comparison:
Tokyo, Japan 116.22

Note that there is no other city in North America which even breaks triple digits (other than NYC, which is the reference value at 100). 114.93 versus 86.55 means that living in Vancouver is about 15% more expensive than NYC, which is in turn about 14% more expensive than Toronto -- that's far from "about the same".
posted by vorfeed at 8:57 PM on September 7, 2011


oops, way to read -- Vancouver is at 90.72. Still almost 5% higher than Toronto or Calgary, on lower wages.
posted by vorfeed at 9:05 PM on September 7, 2011


Trying to understand the English riots is not a crime: We are still none the wiser about what happened during the English riots. Only an in-depth empirical study will tell us
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2011


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