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Pitfalls of Measuring the Rule of Law

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School


Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Vol. 3, No. 2, p. 269, September 2011

The recent demand for new measures of the rule of law confronts several methodological challenges. This article calls for careful attention to fundamental social science ideas of conceptualization and measurement in approaching the rule of law. Efforts to measure complex social phenomena such as the rule of law are challenging, and thus require that researchers and policy makers pay attention to the cautionary rules of social science in their efforts. Violating these basic rules risks producing measures that are not reliable or valid, and could be a bad basis for policy-making. This paper demonstrates some of the pitfalls that rule of law researchers have fallen into and suggests improvements in measurement approaches.

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Date posted: December 17, 2012 ; Last revised: December 19, 2012

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom, Pitfalls of Measuring the Rule of Law (2011). Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Vol. 3, No. 2, p. 269, September 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2190454

Contact Information

Tom Ginsburg (Contact Author)
University of Chicago Law School ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
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