Press Freedom and Corruption Perceptions: Is There a Reputational Premium?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Press Freedom and Corruption Perceptions: Is There a Reputational Premium?


  • Michael Breen School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Robert Gillanders Business School, Dublin City University, Ireland / Department of Economics, Hanken School of Economics, Finland


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Abstract:  Many studies find a strong association between press freedom and corruption perceptions (Adsera, Boix, & Payne, 2003; Brunetti & Weder, 2003; Freille, Haque, & Kneller, 2007). However, it is possible that this relationship is driven by experts’ belief that limits on press freedom are associated with corruption. This article tests the association between press freedom and corruption perceptions using objective measures of corruption from the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys, a series of representative surveys of the owners and top managers of private firms in the manufacturing and service sectors. Our findings suggest that there is a reputational premium associated with press freedom: Holding corruption experiences constant, corruption perceptions are improved by greater press freedom. Moreover, we find that the developed world is best placed to avail of this premium, as it is most evident in countries with low to moderate levels of corruption by global standards.

Keywords:  corruption; corruption perception; press freedom; media freedom; premiums

Published:   28 May 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i2.2697


© Michael Breen, Robert Gillanders. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.