Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1225: Coups, Regime Transition, and the Dynamics of Press Freedom

Christian Bjørnskov (), Andreas Freytag () and Jerg Gutmann ()
Additional contact information
Christian Bjørnskov: Aarhus University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)
Andreas Freytag: School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: Friedrich Schiller Iniversität Jena, Germany, University of Stennenbosch, and CESifo Research Network
Jerg Gutmann: Institute of Law and Economics, Postal: University of Hamburg, Germany

Abstract: This paper explores the dynamics of press freedom around events that threaten or oust the incumbent regime of a country. While democracies on average grant the press more freedom, our theoretical starting point is that democracies and autocracies may have similar incentives to protect the power of the governing regime. A priori it is, nevertheless, not clear whether democracies or autocracies react more harshly – by silencing or controlling the media – to an attempt to overthrow the government. We estimate the dynamics of press freedom around both failed and successful coups and find that although press freedom is quite stable, successful coups lead to a substantial reduction in press freedom. This is, however, only the case when the coup is directed against a democratically elected government.​

Keywords: Coup; Political instability; Press freedom

JEL-codes: D74; H12; L51; L82

34 pages, August 20, 2018

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