Stat of the month: A gag on enterprise - 77 - The number of countries restricting free speech

It's not just bloggers and hacks who care about free expression.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

There are compelling arguments linking free speech to economic prosperity. Economists like the Nobel Prize-winning Amartya Sen argue that a free press keeps a check on governmental and judicial corruption, both of which are obstacles to economic growth. In the World Bank's 2007 global GDP rankings, China is the only country that has significant press restrictions and still features in the top 10 GDPs. Commercial sluggards Burma and North Korea are more representative of the correlation between censorship and economic stagnation. The freedom of the press may also affect which business sectors grow: freer expression has been linked, for example, to a more developed service sector. Again China, land of the Great Firewall and censored text messages, seems to be the exception to this rule. It imprisoned 100 journalists and internet users in 2007, yet its service sector still grew by 11% and contributed a healthy 39% of the country's GDP. Say what you like, and be thankful that you can, but the Olympics must have something to do with it.

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