[FoME] UNESCO study: Correlations between press freedom and development

Christoph Dietz christoph.dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Fr Jan 23 09:17:39 CET 2009

Marina Guseva et al.:
Press freedom and development: an analysis of correlations between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of development, poverty, governance and peace.
Paris: UNESCO, 2008, 130 p.
Free Download: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001618/161825e.pdf 

This study is the outcome of a research project implemented by the Centre for Peace and Human Security (CPHS) at Sciences Po University with support by UNESCO.

The influence of a free press on development has never been properly assessed. It is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate such impact. However, correlations between freedom of the press and the different dimensions of societies' development in the broad sense can be perceived through simple econometric regressions. While no conclusion can be reached as to the existence of causality between freedom of the press and the different variables explored, all the findings confirm the importance of press freedom for development. A free press always has a positive influence, whether it be on poverty and its different aspects (monetary poverty and access to primary commodities, health and education), on governance or on violence and conflict issues. It serves as an intermediary between individuals and government, informing the latter of people's needs and acting as a buffer against crises and situations of extreme deprivation; it holds governments accountable and makes their actions more transparent; and, along with other indicators of good governance, it creates a business-enabling environment, a climate conducive to more effective public affairs management, and so forth. The results thus suggest that a freer press can contribute to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and, most importantly, to attainment of an acceptable and viable level of development. By promoting freedom of the press, States and international organizations provide themselves with a powerful development tool. A free press constitutes an instrument of development as such, in the same way as education or investment.

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