How to Measure the Rule of Law

25 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2009

See all articles by Stefan Voigt

Stefan Voigt

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 15, 2009


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.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Institutions, Governance, Measurement, Formal vs. Informal Institutions

JEL Classification: B41, C81/82, H11, K00, O17, O43, O57

Suggested Citation

Voigt, Stefan, How to Measure the Rule of Law (June 15, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Stefan Voigt (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
+49-40-428385782 (Phone)
+49-40-428386794 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

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