Beyond Borders: Is Media Freedom Contagious?
Previous literature stresses the importance of free media for economic development. By its nature TV, radio, and newspapers cross borders, allowing citizens to easily sample media from neighboring countries. This creates pressure for domestic reform and spreads media freedom between countries. Using spatial econometric techniques, and a sample of 102 countries, we test for the presence of geographic spillovers in media freedom. We find that a country’s level of media freedom significantly depends on its neighbors. Countries ‘catch’ approximately 20 percent of their media freedom from neighboring countries. Our results are robust to alternative specifications and measures of press freedom.
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