Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Pier Giuseppe Monateri
Chapter 15: Towards the Economics of Comparative Law: The Doing Business Debate
Antonio Nicita and Simona Benedettini 1. INTRODUCTION The centrality of institutional determinants for economic performance has recently ﬂourished in the economic policy debate. This is testiﬁed, among other things by several initiatives launched either by intergovernmental organizations or foundations, focused on measuring the impact of the institutional framework on growth or competitiveness. The Doing Business report published annually by the World Bank is just one of the prominent examples in this respect. Recent debates over global ﬁnancial crises have further renewed the role of institutional settings and legal standards as ‘genetic’ features of wellperforming markets, which is now acknowledged even by one of the Chicago School’s most eminent scholars. The idea that designing appropriate institutional frameworks should be the new frontier of policy-making in the hands of governments (La Porta et al., 1999, 2008) is now central in comparative law and economics studies. Structural reforms are, indeed, the new horizon of most governments both in developing/transition countries and in the most advanced. To assign a quantity measure to the quality of institutions is crucial in policy evaluation analysis. On the one hand, indeed, to express institutional entities through quantitative values is essential in order for an empirical evaluation of institutions to be feasible; on the other, an ambiguous measuring might lead to wrong normative recommendations. Policymakers increasingly refer to ‘quality’ as a useful benchmark against which to evaluate institutions. While ‘quality’ sounds like a sufﬁciently general and acceptable benchmark, it remains also an empty concept. Indeed, the quality...
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