European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 237–250 | Cite as

The reformers’ dilemma: media, policy ownership, and reform

  • Peter T. Leeson
  • Christopher J. Coyne


Current proposals for strengthening policy ownership in reforming economies are fundamentally flawed. Modeling the reform process as a prisoners’ dilemma demonstrates that political agents must overcome this conflict of interests before present proposals for bolstering ownership will work. A politically autonomous mass media is one important mechanism enabling political agents to do this. Reforming countries without free media face an uphill battle overcoming the problems associated with transition. We test our theory by investigating the relationship between media freedom, foreign aid, and economic development in 26 post-socialist transition countries. The results of this analysis support our theory.


Media Reform Policy ownership 

JEL Classifications

O17 O12 P16 K20 


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We thank Peter Boettke, Russell S. Sobel, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments and suggestions. Leeson was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University when this research was conducted. We would like to thank the Mercatus Center and Earhart Foundation for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsHampden-Sydney CollegeHampden-SydneyUSA

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