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How to Measure the Rule of Law


  • Stefan Voigt


I argue that the rule of law consists of many dimensions and that much information is lost when variables proxying for these dimensions are simply aggregated. I draw on the most important innovations from various legal traditions to propose a concept of the rule of law likely to find general support. To make the concept measurable, an ideal approach is contrasted with a pragmatic one. The pragmatic approach consists of eight different dimensions. I show that the bivariate correlations between them are usually very low, evidence that more fine-grained indicators of the rule of law, rather than a single hard-to-interpret one, are necessary for its measurement. The paper presents a list of desirable variables that could improve the measurement of various aspects of the rule of law.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Voigt, 2012. "How to Measure the Rule of Law," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 262-284, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:65:y:2012:i:2:p:262-284

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    Cited by:

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    2. Bénédicte Coestier, 2015. "Jordan and the Middle-Income Growth Trap: Arab Springs and Institutional Changes," EconomiX Working Papers 2015-8, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    3. Christian Bjørnskov & Jacob Mchangama, 2013. "Do Social Rights Affect Social Outcomes?," Economics Working Papers 2013-18, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    4. Daniel L. Bennett & Hugo J. Faria & James D. Gwartney & Daniel R. Morales, 2016. "Evaluating Alternative Measures of Institutional Protection of Private Property and Their Relative Ability to Predict Economic Development," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 31(Summer 20), pages 57-78.
    5. Hannes Öhler & Peter Nunnenkamp, 2014. "Needs-Based Targeting or Favoritism? The Regional Allocation of Multilateral Aid within Recipient Countries," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 420-446, August.
    6. Karama, Dalal, 2014. "Ease of Doing Business: Emphasis on Corruption and Rule of Law," MPRA Paper 58662, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Jerg Gutmann & Stefan Voigt, 2015. "The Rule of Law: Measurement and Deep Roots," CESifo Working Paper Series 5670, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Luisito Bertinelli & Arnaud Bourgain, 2016. "Tax Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Impact of Tax and Business Law Reforms," CREA Discussion Paper Series 16-04, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    9. Rajeev K. Goel & James W. Saunoris, 2017. "Forms of government decentralization and institutional quality: evidence from a large sample of nations," Chapters,in: Central and Local Government Relations in Asia, chapter 12, pages 395-420 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Christian Bachelder Holkeboer & James Raymond Vreeland, 2013. "Calling Democracies and Dictatorships: The Effect of Political Regime on International Long-Distance Rates," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 417-437, August.
    11. Jerg Gutmann & Stefan Voigt, 2015. "The rule of law and constitutionalism in Muslim countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(3), pages 351-380, March.
    12. Luisito Bertinelli & Arnaud Bourgain, 2016. "Tax Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Impact of Tax and Business Law Reforms," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(3), pages 1805-1810.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries


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