To Measure Is to Know: The Quantification of Regulation

20 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013 Last revised: 17 Jun 2016

See all articles by Wim J. M. Voermans

Wim J. M. Voermans

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Date Written: June 11, 2013


In recent debates and policies on regulation the quantification of effects – in terms of numbers, figures and costs – plays an ever more important role. Whatever the underlying cause for this quantification trend may be, it does allow countries to share information on (the effects of) regulation in ways that were unfathomable before. This paper looks into this regulatory quantification trend and assesses it. The paper discusses the way in which jurisdictions all around the world, perhaps triggered by regulatory competition, are adopting each other’s regulatory appraisal practices at an extraordinary pace, in most cases in order to enable policy makers to gather more and better information about the possible effects of regulation. In this process – particularly in OECD countries – these jurisdictions don’t just copy each other’s quantification methods but to a certain extent also each other’s institutional arrangements. One of these effects in any case is that regulators will be able to take decisions on the basis of better information and be more able to weigh up the content of alternative solutions. It can make the regulatory process better informed and more inclusive as well. There are serious downsides to quantification as well, as the conclusion of the paper argues: quantification may make the regulatory more exclusive as well, make the debate during the regulatory process to one sided. It may be abused to fence off an open debate on alternatives, and it does not help to dampen the ambitions of regulators in thinking that every problem can be solved by regulatory intervention; it rather more seems to feed this ambition.

Keywords: better regulation, regulation, impact assessment, administrative burden, deregulation, better regulation policy, quantification, appraisal methods, red tape, standard cost model, ex ante evaluation

JEL Classification: G18, G28, K1, K23, I18, L43, L5, N4, R38, R48

Suggested Citation

Voermans, Wim, To Measure Is to Know: The Quantification of Regulation (June 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Wim Voermans (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

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