Media bias in China

Bei Qin, David Strömberg, Yanhui Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines whether and how market competition affected the political bias of government- owned newspapers in China from 1981 to 2011. We measure media bias based on coverage of government mouthpiece content ( propaganda) relative to commercial content. We first find that a reform that forced newspaper exits (reduced competition) affected media bias by increasing product specialization, with some papers focusing on propaganda and others on commercial content. Second, lower- level governments produce less- biased content and launch commercial newspapers earlier, eroding higher- level governments' political goals. Third, bottom- up competition intensifies the politico-economic trade-off, leading to product proliferation and less audience exposure to propaganda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2442-2476
Number of pages39
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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