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Reexamining the relationship between press freedom and corruption

Magazine article
Authors Mathias A. Färdigh
Emma Andersson
Henrik Oscarsson
Published in QoG Working Paper Series, Gothenburg: The Quality of Government Institute
Volume 2011:13
Pages 32
ISSN 1653-8919
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 32
Language en
Keywords Press freedom, corruption, democracy, quality of government, fixed effects vector decomposition
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


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 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 has 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 low levels of democracy, and becomes more positive the more democratic a country is.

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