Why Resource-Poor Dictators Allow Freer Media: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data

American Political Science Review, Vol. 103, No. 4, pp. 645-668, 2009

43 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2006 Last revised: 17 Sep 2014

See all articles by Georgy Egorov

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER

Sergei M. Guriev

Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: March 20, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: media freedom, non-democratic politics, bureaucracy, resource curse

JEL Classification: P16, D72, D80, Q4

Suggested Citation

Egorov, Georgy and Guriev, Sergei M. and Sonin, Konstantin, Why Resource-Poor Dictators Allow Freer Media: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data (March 20, 2009). American Political Science Review, Vol. 103, No. 4, pp. 645-668, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=898888

Georgy Egorov

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sergei M. Guriev

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

HOME PAGE: http://econ.sciences-po.fr/staff/sergei-guriev

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) ( email )

One Exchange Square
London, EC2A 2EH
United Kingdom

Konstantin Sonin (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( 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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