Reexamining the Relationship Between Press Freedom and Corruption
A widespread and commonly held belief is that a free and independent press fulfills a both significant and important role in fighting corruption. In numerous policy proposals and general recommendations, the importance of media plurality, media freedom and competition is emphasized in curbing corruption. Nonetheless, the knowledge as to how effective media and a free press actually perform to combat corruption is still limited, albeit growing. This working paper demonstrates that research on the relationship between press freedom and corruption is far from completed, and that additional and new approaches are required to move forward. Here, we combine two different models of the relationship between press freedom and corruption and bring forward more and improved data, including indicators of press freedom, and a number of different measures of corruption. In addition, we apply new estimation techniques to analyze our data. Based on these estimation techniques, it is therefore feasible to handle known problems that arise when estimating models with time-invariant or almost time-invariant variables correlated with unit effects. Similar techniques have not yet been applied in previous research on the relationship between press freedom and corruption. Thus, our application will serve as a robustness test of earlier findings. The results stress the importance of looking beyond the simple models of direct effects of press freedom and the level of corruption, as the relationship seems to be more complicated than that. Our results show that the role of a free press in fighting corruption differs depending on whether the country at play has a well, newly, or non-established electoral democracy. The effect of press freedom on corruption starts off negative or insignificant for countries with very low levels of democracy, and becomes more positive the more democratic a country is.
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Färdigh, Mathias A.
quality of government
fixed effects vector decomposition