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Law, Regulation, and the Business Climate: The Nature and Influence of the World Bank Doing Business Project

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  • Timothy Besley

Abstract

The importance of a well-functioning legal and regulatory system in creating an effective market economy is now widely accepted. One flagship project that tries to measure the environment in which businesses operate in countries across the world is the World Bank's Doing Business project, which was launched in 2002. This project gathers quantitative data to compare regulations faced by small and medium-size enterprises across economies and over time. The centerpiece of the project is the annual Doing Business report. It was first published in 2003 with five sets of indicators for 133 economies, and currently includes 11 sets of indicators for 189 economies. The report includes a table that ranks each country in the world according to its scores across the indicators. The Doing Business project has become a major resource for academics, journalists, and policymakers. The project also enjoys a high public profile with close to ten million hits on its website each year. With such interest, it's no surprise that the Doing Business report has come under intense scrutiny. In 2012, following discussions by its board, the World Bank commissioned an independent review panel to evaluate the project, on which I served as a member. In this paper, I first describe how the Doing Business project works and illustrate with some of the key findings of the 2015 report. Next, I address what is valuable about the project, the criticisms of it, and some wider political economy issues illustrated by the report.

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  • Timothy Besley, 2015. "Law, Regulation, and the Business Climate: The Nature and Influence of the World Bank Doing Business Project," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 99-120, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:29:y:2015:i:3:p:99-120
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.29.3.99
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simeon Djankov & Oliver Hart & Caralee McLiesh & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Debt Enforcement around the World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1105-1149, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:130:y:2018:i:c:p:173-189 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Matthias Fahn & Valeria Merlo & Georg Wamser, 2017. "Relational Contracts, the Cost of Enforcing Formal Contracts, and Capital Structure Choice - Theory and Evidence," Economics working papers 2017-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. repec:spr:intemj:v:14:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11365-017-0450-y is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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