Media freedom and political stability in Sub-Saharan Africa: a panel data study

Date
2012-12
Authors
Armah, Stephen Emmanuel
Amoah, Lloyd G
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Ashesi University College, published by Mot Juste
Abstract
Political stability is often cited as a key determinant of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) although little research that identifies the factors that ensure political stability in SSA is available. A pertinent determinant of political stability in SSA may be press freedom since on one hand, the press can contribute to political stability by keeping the electorate informed thereby keeping a check on graft, fraud, embezzlement and other corrupt practices of government officials. On the other hand, however, the press can be manipulated to generate political instability by misinforming the public so the exact relationship between press freedom and political stability in SSA is ex ante unclear. By investigating the determinants of political stability and accounting for possible of endogeneity bias, this paper (i) isolates the most pertinent variables that affect political stability in Sub-Saharan Africa and (ii) investigates to what extent press freedom mitigates or worsens the incidence of political instability in the SSA region. A panel of 31 SSA countries from 1984–2007 is used in static and dynamic panel data frameworks to investigate the determinants of political stability and to verify the relationship between media freedom and political stability in SSA. Important determinants of political stability are found to be mainly related to economic performance, macroeconomic policies, unemployment the level of education and regime type. Preliminary results also suggest that media freedom may be a vital determinant of political stability in SSA although less so than economic, political and social factors. Ongoing estimations suggest elasticities of political stability with respect to media freedom calculated at different values of media freedom are nonzero. The research result should help guide policy makers in the different nation states of SSA in drafting pragmatic media and economic policies that will promote political stability in their respective countries.
Description
Keywords
Sub-Saharan Africa, press freedom, panel data, elasticity
Citation
Armah, S. E. and Amoah, L. (2012) Media freedom and political stability in Sub-Saharan Africa: a panel data study. Ashesi Economics Lectures Series 1, (1): 33–46