Taking the Measure of Law: The Case of the Doing Business Project

Document Type



Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2007


This article analyzes a number of yearly reports from the World Bank's Doing Business project, an ambitious international effort to measure various aspects of law and development, analyze their inter-relationship, develop benchmarks for assessment of legal systems, and suggest legal reforms. After describing the methodology used, we analyze the strengths and limitations of the project, both as a scholarly enterprise and as a set of proposals for legal reform. Our analysis highlights the challenges associated with measuring legal variables in the face of legal complexity and uncertainty, measuring development when the concept of development is contested, tracing causal connections between law and development, and using scholarly research as a basis for legal reform.

Date of Authorship for this Version

April 2008

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