Posted by: Tobias | January 27, 2009

The Wisdom of Crowds: Berlin prison population

It’s time for a new installment of The Wisdom of Krauts, our little guessing game in which I ask you a weird question, you give me your best quantitative estimate and we see whether you’re smarter collectively than you are as individuals. So, without further ado, here’s the question:

What share of Berlin’s prison population is behind bars because they were caught repeatedly while perusing public transport without paying for it (Schwarzfahren)?

Gentlemen, your answers please!


  1. I know there’s quite a lot of Schwarzfahrer in Berlin. It’s like a local movement, which is why the law changed to setting people behind bars if caught repeatedly.

    At the same time, I doubt that Schwarzfahrer have to stay in prison for long. If we’re talking of a snapshot of Berlin prisoners at any given moment, I would estimate it’s less than one percent.
    If we’re talking about the total number of inmates in, say, a year and their share, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something like 5%.

  2. Late response but I would be really surprised when it hits that 5%.
    I don’t know anything on figures about criminality in Berlin but because it is a big city I would guess there are bigger fish to catch than a couple of notorious zwartrijders. Furthermore many off the offenders are offered on various moments during the process to pay the fine and when the last option is between paying and imprisonment I would guess they would opt for paying. I therefore stick to 1% although I still think that would be high.

  3. Well…?

  4. Sorry, I was still waiting for the adoptive Swiss to answer.

  5. Come on Swissie!!

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