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

Posted: 5 Feb 2008 Last revised: 20 Apr 2008

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Michael B. Kruse

Hunton & Williams


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.

Keywords: law and development, legal reform, empirical legal studies

JEL Classification: K20, O10, O20

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E. and Kruse, Michael B., Taking the Measure of Law: The Case of the Doing Business Project. Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 32, No. 4, 2007; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089549

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

Michael B. Kruse

Hunton & Williams ( email )

United States

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