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. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.