18 August 2012

Fresh, New Perspective

I have visitors from Tehran, Iran here in Moscow.  This trip to Moscow marks the first time that he has traveled internationally.

He took a ride from one of Moscow's main airports (SVO) to downtown, where I live.  Two hours into his stay, he asked if Russia was similar to Germany or the US.  Puzzled, I asked him why he asked the question.  He said:  "The roads here are just like the ones in Tehran.  I was wondering if the roads in other countries were like this*."

Although I frequently complain about the roads here, I did not expect this observation from a "third-world" country citizen who is living with an economy crippled by severe international sanctions and decades of internal mismanagement.  Basically, I thought that roads would be much were better here.  Macroeconomic data indicate why:

Metric (2011 estimate)
Russia
Iran
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.414 trillion
$1.003 trillion
GDP - real growth rate:
4.3%
2%
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$17,000
$13,200

Source:  The World Fact Book

A quick scan of photos on the web appears to prove my visitor correct.  The roads are, indeed, very similar.





Tehran or Moscow:  Can You Tell The Difference?
According to Tom Vanderbilt, the author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), “Traffic behavior is more or less directly related to levels of government corruption.” Vanderbilt cites a clear correlation between traffic-fatality rates per miles driven and a country’s ranking on Transparency International’s corruption index. (In terms of road safety, the Scandinavian countries fare the best; Nigeria is near the bottom of the list.)
Per Transparency International, Russia is as corrupt as Nigeria, ranking 2.4 on a scale of 10, where 10 is as honest as could be. Iran, by comparison, is a slightly less corrupt place, scoring a 2.7 on the index. Maybe Iran's less corrupt rating compensates for its worse economic picture when compared to Russia.

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* The visitor does find Moscow to be a nicer city than Tehran.  He finds it scenic, pedestrian friendly, and replete with fresh air.

8 comments:

  1. one can say nothing against the theory of corruption, but don't forget to compare average temperatures and amount of 0 Celsius passing per year as well

    ReplyDelete
  2. Try the roads in Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and Sweden (all the way north of the Polar Circle). The flip flops around zero C can be engineered around rather well. Canadian roads do pretty well also.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I can tell which is which between Russia and Iran: Russia has about 30% higher income thus a much higher auto ownership. Ergo, the more-congested scenes are Russian. Right? Wrong?

    Lynn

    ReplyDelete
  4. Top three photos are Tehran; the last is Moscow.

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