Why are More Trade-Open Countries More Likely to Repress the Media?

2014-04-14T09:22:01Z (GMT) by Justin Murphy
<p>Why are more trade-open countries more likely to repress the media, even though media freedom is positively correlated with most other components of globalization? To explore and understand this empirical puzzle, I argue that economic globalization exerts contradictory pressures on state-media relations. On the one hand, economic openness encourages national policymakers to promote media freedom because foreign investors are more likely to invest where information is reliable. On the other hand, because increasing globalization brings distributive conflict which can threaten governments, it also generates incentives for national policymakers to suppress information and communication. This paper develops a theoretical model that reconciles these contradictory expectations by disaggregating globalization into its component parts and distinguishing short-run and long-run effects. I argue that increasing overall globalization in the short-run should increase the probability states will repress the media, as states seek to manage the domestic conflict it generates. However, while international investors have a stake in the transparency of foreign countries, international traders do not. Thus, after controlling for the negative short-run effects of overall globalization, foreign investment should have a positive effect whereas trade openness should have a negative effect on media freedom, as investment corrects but trade enables the repressive tendency. To test these expectations, I use a mixed-methods research design combining statistical analysis of a large panel of countries from 1970 to 2003 and qualitative process-tracing on the cases of Argentina and Mexico.</p>