The Limits of Evidence-Based Regulation: The Case of Anti-Bribery Law

53 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2019

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2019


Evidence-based regulation is a term of art which refers to the process of making decisions about regulation based on evidence generated through systematic research. There is increasing pressure to treat evidence-based regulation as a global best practice, including from US political interests hoping to tame the regulatory state, the OECD, international trade agreements, and academics. However, there are certain conditions under which evidence-based regulation is likely to be a less appealing method of decision-making than the alternative, namely, relying on judgment. Those conditions are: it is difficult to collect data, on either interventions or outcomes; accurate causal inferences are difficult to draw; there is little warrant for believing that the same causal relationships will apply in a new context; or, the decision-makers in question lack the capacity to undertake one of these tasks. These conditions are likely to be present in complex, transnational, decentralized and dynamic forms of business regulation that extend to relatively poor countries. The global anti-bribery regime is an illustrative case.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E., The Limits of Evidence-Based Regulation: The Case of Anti-Bribery Law (November 1, 2019). NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 19-42, Available at SSRN: or

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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