Legal Indicators: The Power of Quantitative Measures of Law

Posted: 5 Nov 2014

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Date Written: November 2014


Legal indicators, sometimes known as rule of law indicators, governance indicators, or indicators of public service performance, are quantitative measures of the performance of legal systems. They are used both as sources of knowledge about societies and as means of governing them (technologies of governance). As a result, these indicators have begun to attract considerable attention from scholars, policy makers, and other actors. Key issues include the following: When, why, and by whom are various kinds of legal indicators produced? Are they reliable and valid? How influential are they? Given their influence, should they be regulated, and if so, how? This article reviews recent efforts to answer these questions. The overarching theme is that all of these questions are related to one another.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E., Legal Indicators: The Power of Quantitative Measures of Law (November 2014). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 10, pp. 37-52, 2014. Available at SSRN: or

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)

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