Comparative Law and Regulation
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Comparative Law and Regulation

Understanding the Global Regulatory Process

Edited by Francesca Bignami and David Zaring

Governance by regulation – rules propounded and enforced by bureaucracies – is taking a growing share of the sum total of governance. Once thought to be an American phenomenon, it is now a central form of state action in every part of the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and it is at the core of much international lawmaking. In Comparative Law and Regulation, original contributions by leading scholars in the field focus both on the legal dimension of regulation and on how this dimension operates in those places that have turned to regulation to meet their obligations.
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Chapter 6: Impact assessment: diffusion and integration

Jonathan B. Wiener and Daniel L. Ribeiro


Impact assessment (IA) tools share a core feature: the use of information and analysis to improve decisions about the future. The international diffusion of IA demonstrates the growing demand around the world for policy foresight (Wiener, 2013): mechanisms to help anticipate the future impacts of present decisions, and thereby both improve policy making and public accountability. Legal tools for evaluating the environmental impacts of government actions— environmental impact assessment (EIA)—were initially adopted starting around 1970. EIA has spread globally to the national legal systems of more than 100 countries (Sadler, 1996; Craik, 2008; Sand, 2011). EIA is also promoted in international law. Legal tools for evaluating the impacts (benefits and costs) of government regulation—regulatory impact assessment (RIA)—were also initially developed in the 1970s. RIA has also been spreading among national legal systems around the world (OECD, 2009; Cordova-Novion and Jacobzone, 2011; De Francesco, 2012, 2013; Quah and Toh, 2012; Livermore and Revesz, 2013; Wiener, 2013; Adelle et al., 2015). The idea of comparing the benefits and costs of important decisions is not new, dating back at least to Benjamin Franklin ([1772] 1936). What is new is the global spread of regulation to oversee market actors (Levi-Faur, 2005; Simmons et al., 2008), and the accompanying spread of RIA systems to oversee and improve the performance of such regulation (Radaelli and De Francesco, 2008).

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