The impact of democracy and media freedom on under-5 mortality, 1961-2011

Soc Sci Med. 2017 Oct;190:237-246. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.08.023. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Do democracies produce better health outcomes for children than autocracies? We argue that (1) democratic governments have an incentive to reduce child mortality among low-income families and (2) that media freedom enhances their ability to deliver mortality-reducing resources to the poorest. A panel of 167 countries for the years 1961-2011 is used to test those two theoretical claims. We find that level of democracy is negatively associated with under-5 mortality, and that that negative association is greater in the presence of media freedom. These results are robust to the inclusion of country and year fixed effects, time-varying control variables, and the multiple imputation of missing values.

Keywords: Country fixed effects; Democracy; Media freedom; Panel data analysis; Under-5 mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Democracy*
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Media / standards*
  • Mass Media / trends
  • Patient Outcome Assessment*