Public Choice

, Volume 167, Issue 3–4, pp 221–243 | Cite as

An offer you can’t refuse: murdering journalists as an enforcement mechanism of corrupt deals

  • Christian BjørnskovEmail author
  • Andreas Freytag


Anecdotal evidence suggests that journalists and bureaucrats in some countries are killed when they try to blow the whistle on corruption. We demonstrate in a simple game-theoretical model how murders can serve as an enforcer of corrupt deals under certain regime assumptions. Testing the main implications in an unbalanced panel of 179 countries observed through four periods, we find that corruption is strongly related to the incidence of murders of journalists in countries with almost full press freedom. While our results provide evidence that journalists are killed for corrupt reasons, they also suggest that some countries may have to go through quite violent periods when seeking to secure full freedom of the press.


Corruption Rent-seeking Murder 



We thank Christoph Engel, Bruno Frey, Oliver Kirchkamp, Guido Mehlkop, Philipp Schröder, Bill Shughart, participants of the fourth political economy workshop in Dresden, the annual meetings of the European Public Choice Society (Rennes), seminars at the New Economic School, the GSBC in Jena, Wake Forest University and the University of Stellenbosch, and two anonymous reviewers at this journal for commenting on earlier versions. All remaining errors are ours.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessAarhus UniversityAarhus VDenmark
  2. 2.Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)AarhusSweden
  3. 3.Chair for Economic PolicyFriedrich-Schiller Universität JenaJenaGermany

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