Why Resource-Poor Dictators Allow Freer Media: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER
Sergei M. Guriev
Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
March 20, 2009
American Political Science Review, Vol. 103, No. 4, pp. 645-668, 2009
Every dictator dislikes free media. Yet, many non-democratic countries have partially free or almost free media. In this paper, we develop a theory of media freedom in dictatorships and provide systematic statistical evidence in support of this theory. In our model, free media allow a dictator to provide incentives to bureaucrats and therefore to improve the quality of government. The importance of this benefit varies with the natural-resource endowment. In resource-rich countries, bureaucratic incentives are less important for the dictator; hence, media freedom is less likely to emerge. Using panel data, we show that controlling for country fixed effects, media are less free in oil-rich economies, with the effect especially pronounced in non-democratic regimes. These results are robust to model specification and the inclusion of various controls, including economic development, democracy, country size, size of government, and others.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: media freedom, non-democratic politics, bureaucracy, resource curse
JEL Classification: P16, D72, D80, Q4
Date posted: April 30, 2006 ; Last revised: September 17, 2014
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