There can be no two opinions that freedom of the press is vital to democracy. But that's not all, say researchers at the University of Missouri. Citizens of countries with press freedom tend to be much happier and they enjoy better environmental quality, according to a study, which compared happiness levels around the world with the level of each country's press freedom.
The researchers analyzed data from 161 countries using a 2010 Gallup Poll evaluating happiness levels around the world. The happiness levels were compared with Freedom House's press freedom index, and the human development statistics gathered by the United Nations as well as the Environmental Performance Index created by researchers at Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy were also examined.
According to the study, the more press freedom a country enjoyed, the better environmental quality and higher levels of human development were, and higher the levels of life satisfaction, or happiness, of its citizens tended to be.
It's all due to the watchdog function of the press, which helps expose corruption of all levels in a community, says Edson Tandoc, one of the researchers involved in the study.
Tandoc added, "A country with a free press is expected to be more open about what is wrong in their societies and with their environments. A free press is likely to report about poor human conditions and environmental degradation, bringing problems to the attention of decision-makers. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that press freedom is positively related to both environmental quality and human development."
According to Press Freedom Index 2011-2012, compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands and Austria that respect 'basic freedoms' occupy the top five places in the index while Iran, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea that permit no civil liberties occupy the last five places in the index.
by RTT Staff Writer
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