This indicator measures a government’s commitment to enable or allow information to move freely in society. It is a composite index that includes a measure of press freedom; the status of national freedom of information laws; and a measure of internet filtering.
Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction
Governments play a role in information flows; they can restrict or facilitate information flows within countries or across borders. Many of the institutions (laws, regulations, codes of conduct) that governments design are created to manage the flow of information in an economy. 1 Countries with better information flows often have better quality governance and less corruption. 2 Higher transparency and access to information have been shown to increase investment inflows because they enhance an investor’s knowledge of the behaviors and operations of institutions in a target economy; help reduce uncertainty about future changes in policies and administrative practices; contribute data and perspectives on how best an investment project can be initiated and managed; and allow for the increased coordination between social and political actors that typifies successful economic development. 3 The right of access to information within government institutions also strengthens democratic accountability, promotes political participation of all, reduces governmental abuses, and leads to more effective allocation of natural resources. 4 Access to information also empowers marginalized groups and those living in poverty by giving them the ability to more fully participate in society and providing them with knowledge that can be used for economic gain. 5
- Freedom House Press Freedom Index, http://freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=16. Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to email@example.com or +1 (202) 296-5101.
Freedom House’s methodology: Countries are given a total score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst) on the basis of a set of 23 methodology questions divided into three subcategories: legal environment, political environment, and economic environment. The degree to which each country permits the free flow of news and information determines the classification of its media as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” Countries scoring 0 to 30 are regarded as having “Free” media; 31 to 60, “Partly Free” media; and 61 to 100, “Not Free” media. The ratings and reports included in Freedom of the Press cover events that took place between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year.
- Fringe Special- Overview of All FOIA Laws, http://bit.ly/QKGxQC. Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to Roger Vleugels at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0031 6 2152 5790.
Fringe Methodology: Fringe Methodology: In this dataset the definition of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is as follows: The FOIA must be a law in strict sense, it must include right to access information, this right has to be enforceable, and there must be complaint and appeal possibilities. Decrees are included if they meet the same minimum standards.
- Open Net Initiative’s Global Internet Filtering Map (specifically filtering of political content and of internet tools), http://map.opennet.net/filtering-IT.html. Questions regarding this indicator may be directed to email@example.com or +1 (416) 946-8903.
ONI Methodology: In order to identify and document internet filtering, ONI checks two lists of websites in each of the countries tested: a global list (constant for each country) and a local list (different for each country). The global list of websites is comprised principally of internationally relevant websites with English content. A separate local list is created for each of the countries tested; it includes Web sites related to the specific issues and context of the study country. In countries where Internet censorship has been reported, the local lists also include those sites that were alleged to have been blocked. These lists are samples and are not meant to be exhaustive.
The actual tests are run from within each country using specially designed software. Where appropriate, the tests are run from different locations to capture the differences in blocking behavior across ISPs and across multiple days and weeks to control for normal connectivity problems. Additional diagnostic work is performed to separate normal connectivity errors from intentional tampering.
Data Compilation Methodology: This indicator uses a country’s score on Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press index (Press) as the base. Countries’ base scores may improve based on data from the Overview of all Freedom of Information Laws (FOIA.) A country’s score is improved by 2 points if they have a Freedom of Information law in process and by 4 points if they have Freedom of Information laws or regulations already enacted. Data from the Global Internet Filtering Map (Net) is used to penalize some countries’ base scores. A country’s score is penalized 2 points for selective filtering of either political content or internet tools; 3 points for substantial filtering of either category; or 4 points for pervasive filtering of either category. This means a country that pervasively filters both political content and internet tools would receive a penalty of 8 points.
On this index, lower is better. Overall index scores are calculated as follows:
Press - FOIA+ Net = index score
- 1. Islam, Roumeen. 2006. Does More Transparency Go Along With Better Governance? Economics and Politics, vol. 18, no. 2, pp 121-167
- 2. Ahrend, Rudiger. 2002. Press freedom, human capital and corruption. DELTA Working Paper No. 2002-11. Bhattacharyya, Sambi and Roland Hodler. 2012. Media freedom and democracy: Complements or substitutes in the fight against corruption? CSAE Working Paper WPS/2012-02. Brunetti, Ayno and Beatrice Weder. 2003. A free press is bad news for corruption. Journal of Public Economics. 87(7-8): 1801-1824. Chowdhury, Shyamal K. 2004. The effect of democracy and press freedom on corruption: an empirical test. Economics Letters. 85(1): 93-101. Dirienzi, Cassandra, Joyti Das, Kathrn T. Cort and Joh Burbridge Jr. 2011. Corruption and the Role of Information. Journal of International Business Studies Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 320-332. Freille, Sebastian, M. Emranul Haque, and Richard Kneller. 2007. A contribution to the empirics of press freedom and corruption. European Journal of Political Economy. 23(4): 838-862. International Monetary Fund. 2001. IMF Survey Supplement 30, September, Washington, D.C. Islam, Roumeen. 2006. Does More Transparency Go Along with Better Governance? Economics and Politics Vol. 18, No. 2, pp 121-167. Neuman, L (ed). 2002. Access to Information: A Key to Democracy. Atlanta: The Carter Center. Reinikka, Ritva and Jakob Svensson. 2003. The power of information: Evidence from a newspaper campaign to reduce capture. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3239. Roy, Sanjukta. Media Development and Political Stability: An Analysis of sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, D.C.: The Media Map Project.
- 3. Arsenault, Amelia and Shawn Powers. 2010. Media Map: Review of Literature. Washington, D.C.: The Media Map Project. Coyne, Christopher J. and Peter T. Leeson. 2004. Read all about it! Understanding the role of media in economic development. Kyklos. 57(1): 21-44. DiRienzi, Cassandra, Jayoti Das, Kathryn T. Cort, and John Burbridge Jr. 2007. Corruption and the role of information. Journal of International Business Studies. 38(2): 320-332. Drabek, Zdenek and Warren Payne. 2002. The impact of transparency on foreign direct investment. Journal of Economic Integration. 17(4): 777-810. Gelos, R. Gaston and Shang-Jin Wei. 2002. Transparency and international investor behavior. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 9260. Cambridge. Guseva, Marina, Mounira Nakaa, Anne-Sophie Novel, Kirsii Pekkala, Bachir Souberou, and Sami Stouli. 2008. Press Freedom and Development: An Analysis of Correlations between Freedom of the Press and the Different Dimensions of Development, Poverty, Governance and Peace. Paris: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. International Monetary Fund. 2001. IMF Survey Supplement 30. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. Neuman, L. (Ed.). 2002. Access to Information: A Key to Democracy. Atlanta: The Carter Center. Roumeen. 2006. Does more transparency go along with better governance? Economics and Politics. 18(2): 121-167. Roy, Sanjukta. 2011. Overview Report: Measuring Media Development. Washington, D.C.: The Media Map Project. Stiglitz, Joseph. 2002. Transparency in government. In R. Islam, S. Djankov & C. McLeish (Eds.), The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development (pp. 27-44). Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Susman-Peña, Tara. 2012. Healthy Media, Vibrant Societies: How Strengthening the Media Can Boost Development in sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, D.C.: The Media Map Project.
- 4. Ansari, M. M. 2008. Impact of right to information on development: A perspective on India’s recent experiences. Invited lecture at UNESCO World Headquarters. Paris, France. Bellver, Ana and Daniel Kaufmann. 2005. Transparenting transparency: Initial empirics and policy applications. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Besley, Timothy and Robin Burgess. 2000. The political economy of government responsiveness: Theory and evidence from India. Development Economics Discussion Paper DEDPS 28. London: Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, London School of Economics and Political Science. Besley, Timothy, Robin Burgess, and Andrea Prat. 2002. Mass media and political accountability. In R. Islam, S. Djankov & C. McLeish (Eds.), The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development (pp. 45-60). Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Norris, Pippa. 2008. The role of the free press in promoting democratization, good governance and human development. In M. Harvey (Ed.), Section 2 of Media Matters: Perspectives on Advancing Governance and Development from the Global Forum for Media Development. (pp. 66-75). Internews Europe. Roberts, Alasdair. 2002. Access to government information: An overview of issues. In Access to Information: A Key to Democracy. Atlanta: The Carter Center. Shirazi, Farid, Ojelanki Ngwenyama, and Olga Morawczynski. 2010. ICT expansion and the digital divide in democratic freedoms: An analysis of the impact of ICT expansion, education and ICT filtering on democracy. Telematics and Informatics. 27(1): 21-31. Stiglitz, Joseph. 1999. On liberty, the right to know, and public discourse: The role of transparency in public life. Oxford Amnesty Lecture at Oxford University, United Kingdom.
- 5. Bandyopadhyay, Sanghamitra. 2009. Knowledge-based economic development: Mass media dn the weightless economy. Discussion paper no. 74. Distributional Analysis Research Programme, STICERD. London: London School of Economics and Political Science. Deane, James. 2008. Why the media matters: The relevance of the media to tackling global poverty. In M. Harvey (Ed.), Section 1 of Media Matters: Perspectives on Advancing Governance and Development from the Global Forum for Media Development (pp. 35-44). Internews Europe. Kenny, Charles. 2002. Information and communication technologies for direct poverty alleviation: Costs and benefits. Development Policy Review. 20(2): 141-157. Norris, Pippa and Dieter Zinnbauer. 2002. Giving voice to the voiceless: Good governance, human development & mass communications. Background paper for the UNDP Human Development Report, New York: United Nations Development Programme. Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Shirazi, Farid. 2010. The emancipatory role of information and communication technology: A case study of internet content filtering within Iran. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. 8(1): 57-84. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 2000. Urban poverty alleviation. Paper presented at the Regional High-level Meeting in preparation for Instanbul+5 for Asia and the Pacific: Hangzhou, China. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. 2006. Presentation paper: Media, development, and poverty eradication. Paper presented at World Press Freedom Day: Sri Lanka.