Queuing: Cultural or Economic?

Fascinating discussion on Freakonomics blog about lining up and how it varies from culture to culture. I must confess, after 20 years in Asia I’m still British and somewhat obsessed by queuing, and get very upset when it’s not followed. One commenter explains it thus:

There is a simple explanation for this. It is cultural. Europe doesn’t respect queuing because it is not central to their culture. Queuing is a British invented social rule. The British have a whole range of social rules that can range from common sense to obtuse.


  1. Time to make a trip to Japan to get your queuing fix. 😉 After 5 years there, I joined any super-long queue I saw because there was sure to be a limited supply deal at the end.

  2. “Europe doesn’t respect queing”? They did when I was there! ‘Course it was some time ago.

    How do they handle the “first come, first served” problem then?

  3. I’m a New Yorker and I’m always amazed when I’m in San Francsico (frequently) and I see commuters queueing up to get on the BART. In New York that would be grounds for public mockery.

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