Media, Development, and Institutional Change
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Media, Development, and Institutional Change

Christopher J. Coyne and Peter T. Leeson

Media, Development, and Institutional Change investigates mass media’s profound ability to affect institutional change and economic development. The authors use the tools of economics to illuminate the media’s role in enabling and inhibiting political–economic reforms that promote development.
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Chapter 6: Conclusion – Implications for Policy

Christopher J. Coyne and Peter T. Leeson


6. Conclusion—implications for policy INTRODUCTION In this book we have analyzed the role of media in economic development and institutional change. We considered the important role of media as a check on the behavior of government. We also discussed how media can serve as a solution to the Reformers’ Dilemma and considered the wide array of factors influencing media’s effectiveness in this regard. Media can influence policies within given institutions while simultaneously serving as a mechanism of institutional change and reinforcement. We highlighted three effects of media on institutional change—the gradual effect, the punctuation effect, and the reinforcement effect. The statistical analyses and case studies explored these various aspects of media. A central theme of our analysis is that a free media is a “firstbest” situation. Where media is free, it is best able to serve as a check on government while providing a solution to the Reformers’ Dilemma. In reality, however, the first-best outcome of a free media is rarely achieved. Indeed, a central part of our analysis was to highlight how even a relatively unfree media can contribute to changes in policies and institutions. Nonetheless, any movement toward the first best outcome of a free media is preferable for the reasons discussed throughout this book. Given this, our study has prescriptive implications for policymakers in developing countries and those working for international organizations attempting to assist developing countries. In this concluding chapter we identify and summarize the implications of our analysis. We first reiterate why a...

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