Media Freedom in the Shadow of a Coup

31 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2018

See all articles by Raphael Boleslavsky

Raphael Boleslavsky

University of Miami - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Mehdi Shadmehr

University of Chicago Harris School; University of Calgary - Department of Economics

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2018

Abstract

Popular protests and palace coups are the two domestic threats to dictators. We show that free media, which informs citizens about their rulers, is a double-edged sword that alleviates one threat, but exacerbates the other. Informed citizens may protest against a ruler, but they may also protest to restore him after a palace coup. In choosing media freedom, the leader trades off these conflicting effects. We develop a model in which citizens engage in a regime change global game, and media freedom is a ruler's instrument for Bayesian persuasion, used to manage the competing risks of coups and protests. A coup switches the status quo from being in the ruler's favor to being against him. This introduces convexities in the ruler's Bayesian persuasion problem, causing him to benefi t from an informed citizenry. Rulers tolerate freer press when citizens are pessimistic about them, or coups signal information about them to citizens.

Keywords: authoritarian politics, Bayesian persuasion, coup, global games, media freedom, protest, signaling

JEL Classification: D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Boleslavsky, Raphael and Shadmehr, Mehdi and Sonin, Konstantin, Media Freedom in the Shadow of a Coup (September 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13189, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3254224

Raphael Boleslavsky (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 248126
Coral Gables, FL 33124-6550
United States

Mehdi Shadmehr

University of Chicago Harris School ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Calgary - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
2500 University Drive N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://moya.bus.miami.edu/~mshadmehr/index.html

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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