Press freedom linked with lower rates of corruption, says study
2018-10-01 11:20:00 -
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By Staff Reporter

 

Countries with press freedom have significantly lower problems with bribery and corruption of public officials by business, according to a major new study.

The report published by researchers from Dublin City University (DCU) found that a free press “is associated with a substantial reduction in the percentage of firms that report corruption”.

The findings of The Role of a Free Press in Combating Business Corruption underscore the crucial role of an independent media in the fight against graft.

Data directly from firms, including those who at some point were solicited for a bribe or an illegal payment or gift, were used by the researchers – who also looked at the media’s role “in shaping everyday corruption, as seen through the eyes of ordinary business”.

Norway has the best press freedom score, with North Korea the worst.

On average 7.4 per cent of firms regarded corruption as the biggest obstacle to their operations, varying from zero in some countries to a high of 32.5 per cent in Panama.

“Many studies find a strong link between press freedom and corruption perceptions, but no previous work examines this topic from the perspective of firm’s experiences,” said Dr Robert Gillanders, economist and corruption expert from DCU’s Business School, and a co-author of the report.

“Our findings suggest that press freedom is an important weapon in the fight against corruption domestically and globally.

“International efforts to control corruption such as the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention should be matched by efforts to promote press freedom, which, although it is considered a fundamental human right in several international treaties, is continuously under threat across the globe.”

The DCU researchers said their primary conclusion is that countries with greater press freedom have significantly lower incidence of bribery involving public officials, and fewer business in these countries report corruption as the biggest problem they face.

The study also suggests that corruption provides some businesses “with unfair advantages“ while raising the cost of doing business for everybody.

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