Ease of doing business index
The ease of doing business index is an index created by the World Bank Group. Higher rankings (a low numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. Empirical research funded by the World Bank to justify their work show that the effect of improving these regulations on economic growth is strong.
"Empirical research is needed to establish the optimal level of business regulation—for example, what the duration of court procedures should be and what the optimal degree of social protection is. The indicators compiled in the Doing Business project allow such research to take place. Since the start of the project in November 2001, more than 800 academic papers have used one or more indicators constructed in Doing Business and the related background papers by its authors."
The index is based on the study of laws and regulations, with the input and verification by more than 9,600 government officials, lawyers, business consultants, accountants and other professionals in 185 economies who routinely advise on or administer legal and regulatory requirements.
The ease of doing business index is meant to measure regulations directly affecting businesses and does not directly measure more general conditions such as a nation's proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, or crime. A nation's ranking on the index is based on the average of 10 subindices:
- Starting a business – Procedures, time, cost and minimum capital to open a new business
- Dealing with construction permits – Procedures, time and cost to build a warehouse
- Getting electricity – procedures, time and cost required for a business to obtain a permanent electricity connection for a newly constructed warehouse
- Registering property – Procedures, time and cost to register commercial real estate
- Getting credit – Strength of legal rights index, depth of credit information index
- Protecting investors – Indices on the extent of disclosure, extent of director liability and ease of shareholder suits
- Paying taxes – Number of taxes paid, hours per year spent preparing tax returns and total tax payable as share of gross profit
- Trading across borders – Number of documents, cost and time necessary to export and import
- Enforcing contracts – Procedures, time and cost to enforce a debt contract
- Resolving insolvency – The time, cost and recovery rate (%) under bankruptcy proceeding
The Doing Business project also offers information on following datasets:
- Distance to frontier - Shows the distance of each economy to the “frontier,” which represents the highest performance observed on each of the indicators across all economies included in Doing Business since each indicator was included in Doing Business
- Entrepreneurship - Measures entrepreneurial activity. The data is collected directly from 130 company registrars on the number of newly registered firms over the past seven years
- Good practices - Provide insights into how governments have improved the regulatory environment in the past in the areas measured by Doing Business
- Transparency in business regulation - Data on the accessibility of regulatory information measures how easy it is to access fee schedules for 4 regulatory processes in the largest business city of an economy
For example, according to the Doing Business (DB) 2013 report, Canada ranked third on the first subindex "Starting a business" behind only New Zealand and Australia. In Canada there is 1 procedure required to start a business which takes on average 5 days to complete. The official cost is 0.4% of the gross national income. There is no minimum capital requirement. By contrast, in Chad which ranked among the worst (181st out of 185) on this same subindex, there are 9 procedures required to start a business taking 62 days to complete. The official cost is 202% of the gross national income per capita. A minimum capital investment of 289.4% of the gross national income per capita is required.
While fewer and simpler regulations often imply higher rankings, this is not always the case. Protecting the rights of creditors and investors, as well as establishing or upgrading property and credit registries, may mean that more regulation is needed.
Research and influence
More than 800 academic papers have used data from the index. The effect of improving regulations on economic growth is claimed to be very strong. Moving from the worst one-fourth of nations to the best one-fourth implies a 2.3 percentage point increase in annual growth.
The various sub-components of the index in themselves provide concrete suggestions for improvement. Many of them may be relatively easy to implement and uncontroversial (except perhaps among corrupt officials who may gain from onerous regulations requiring bribes to bypass). As such, the index has influenced many nations to improve their regulations. Several have explicitly targeted to reach a minimum position on the index, for example the top 25 list.
Somewhat similar annual reports are the Indices of Economic Freedom and the Global Competitiveness Report. They, especially the later, look at many more factors that affect economic growth, like inflation and infrastructure. These factors may however be more subjective and diffuse since many are measured using surveys and they may be more difficult to change quickly compared to regulations.
According to some critics, however, some of the research lacks the rigor of a coherent economic theory, contains unstated ideological biases, and too much of it is undertaken by individuals closely associated with the index and reforms, so it is not sufficiently independent to be fully credible. This blanket criticism is often offered by those with their own ideological bias.
Doing business 2013
Doing Business 2013 covers regulations measured from June 2011 through May 2012. The report marks the 10th edition of the Doing Business series. Over the past decade, these reports have recorded nearly 2,000 regulatory reforms implemented by 180 economies.
- Poland was the global top improver in the past year. It enhanced the ease of doing business through four institutional or regulatory reforms, making it easier to register property, pay taxes, enforce contracts, and resolve insolvency.
- Besides Poland, nine other economies are recognized as having the most improved ease of doing business across several areas of regulation as measured by the report: Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Greece, Serbia, and Kazakhstan.
- Worldwide, 108 economies implemented 201 regulatory reforms in 2011/12 making it easier to do business as measured by Doing Business. Reform efforts globally have focused on making it easier to start a new business, increasing the efficiency of tax administration and facilitating trade across international borders. Of the 201 regulatory reforms recorded in the past year, 44% focused on these 3 policy areas alone. Read about reforms.
- Singapore topped the global ranking on the ease of doing business for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong SAR; New Zealand; the United States; and Denmark. Georgia was a new entrant to the top 10. View the rankings.
Doing business 2014
Doing Business 2014 covers regulations measured from June 2012 through May 2013 in 189 economies. The report marks the 11th edition of the Doing Business series.
- Singapore is the first economy of the global ranking followed by Hong Kong SAR, New Zealand, the United States, Denmark, Malaysia, South Korea, Georgia, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
- For the first time data about Libya, Myanmar, San Marino, and South Sudan were collected.
- 114 economies adopted 238 regulatory reforms in 2012/13 (the reforms increased of 18% compared to the previous year).
- 9 of the 20 economies that reduced the distance with the regulatory frontier the most (since 2009s) are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Doing business 2015
Doing Business 2015 covers regulations measured from June 2013 through June 2014 in 189 economies. The report marks the 12th edition of the Doing Business series.
- Singapore is the first economy of the global ranking followed by New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Denmark, South Korea, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland and Australia.
- The entrepreneurs in 123 economies saw improvements in their local regulatory framework last year. Between June 2013 and June 2014, the report, which measures 189 economies worldwide, documented 230 business reforms, with 145 reforms aimed at reducing the complexity and cost of complying with business regulation, and 85 reforms aimed at strengthening legal institutions - with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for the largest number of such reforms.
- Tajikistan, Benin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Azerbaijan, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates are among the economies that improved the most in 2013/2014 in areas tracked by Doing Business. Together, these 10 top improvers implemented 40 regulatory reforms making it easier to do business.
- Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 5 of the 10 top improvers in 2013/14. The region also accounts for the largest number of regulatory reforms making it easier to do business in the past year—75 of the 230 worldwide. More than 70% of its economies carried out at least one such reform.
- For the first time this year, Doing Business collected data for 2 cities in 11 economies with more than 100 million inhabitants. The economies are: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The added city enables a subnational comparison and benchmarking against other large cities. Differences between cities are more common in indicators measuring the steps, time and cost to complete a standardized transaction where local agencies play a larger role, finds the report.
The Doing Business methodology regarding labor regulations was criticized by the International Trade Union Confederation because it favored flexible employment regulations. In early reports, the easier it was to dismiss a worker for economic reasons in a country, the more its rankings improved. The Employing Workers index was revised in Doing Business 2008 to be in full compliance with the 188 International Labour Organization conventions. It has subsequently been removed from the rankings. The ITUC debuted the Global Rights Index in 2014 as a response to the Doing Business report.
In 2008 the World Bank Group's Independent Evaluation Group, a semi-independent watchdog within the World Bank Group, published an evaluation of the Doing Business index. The report, Doing Business: An Independent Evaluation, contained both praise and criticism of Doing Business. The report recommended that Doing Business be clearer about what is and is not measured, disclose changes to published data, recruit more informants, and simplify the Paying Taxes indicator.
In April 2009 the World Bank issued a note with revisions to the Employing Workers index. The note explained that scoring for the Employing Workers indicator would be updated in Doing Business 2010 to give favorable scores for complying with relevant ILO conventions. The Employing Workers indicator was also removed as a guidepost for Country Policy and Institutional Assessments, which help determine resources provided to IDA countries.
A study commissioned by the Norwegian government alleges methodological weaknesses, an uncertainty in the ability of the indicators to capture the underlying business climate, and a general worry that many countries may find it easier to change their ranking in Doing Business than to change the underlying business environment.
In June 2013, an independent panel appointed by the President of the World Bank and headed by Trevor Manuel of South Africa, issued a review expressing concern about the potential for the report and index to be misinterpreted, the narrowness of the indicators and information base, the data collection methodology, and the lack of peer review. It recommended that the report be retained, but that the aggregate rankings be removed and that a peer-review process be implemented (among other things). Regarding the topics of Paying Taxes and Employing Workers, it noted that "The latter has already been excluded from the report's rankings. While there is a persuasive case for paying attention to these aspects of doing business, the Bank will need to carefully consider the correct way to assess the regulation and legal environment of these areas if these indicators are to be retained." 
The Doing Business criteria for measuring the time needed to complete a procedure were based on some simplified assumptions: "It is assumed that the minimum time required for each procedure is 1 day. Although procedures may take place simultaneously, they cannot start on the same day (that is, simultaneous procedures start on consecutive days)". These assumptions generated some criticisms especially by countries that were able to complete one or more procedures simultaneously and could therefore be penalized in the final rank. World Bank claimed that the same criteria are applied to all economies and therefore would not produce biased results. In 2014 the possible biases in applying the DB time indicator were mathematically demonstrated in a scientific article appeared on the Rivista italiana di economia demografia e statistica (Italian Review of Economics, Demography and Statistics - RIEDS). World Bank partially reviewed the criteria inserting a new assumption for telematics procedures: "each telematics procedure accounts for 0.5 day instead of one day (and telematics procedures can also take place simultaneously)".
The most recent rankings come from the "Doing Business 2015" report. Ranking of economies was introduced in the "Doing Business 2006" report.
Singapore has topped the Ease of Doing Business rankings. Based on Singapore's experience, IDA International is collaborating with public agencies in several countries in the areas such as ICT strategy, national infocomm planning and solutions implementation that can help increase the ease of doing business.
|22||23||26||33||40||33||47||55||59||51||United Arab Emirates|
|66||69||68||97||81||78||70||67||..||Trinidad and Tobago|
|71||63||57||64||50||44||39||35||..||Antigua and Barbuda|
|82||75||75||75||70||62||61||55||..||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|101||96||95||87||76||70||63||53||..||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|113||104||101||103||102||95||89||82||66||Papua New Guinea|
|131||126||125||110||116||119||118||110||94||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|169||160||163||178||180||180||177||170||147||São Tomé and Príncipe|
|183||181||178||175||182||182||181||175||155||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|188||..||..||..||..||..||..||..||..||Central African Republic|
Note: Rankings at time of annual report publication. Rankings are subject to revision.
- "Doing Business - Measuring Business Regulations - World Bank Group". Doing Business. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- "Doing Business report series – World Bank Group". Doingbusiness.org. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- Ease of doing business, Page 111.
- "Doing Business and related research - World Bank Group". Doingbusiness.org. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- "Be careful when Doing Business" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "Doing Business 2015, World Bank. Published: October 29, 2014.".
- "ITUC-CSI-IGB – International Trade Union Confederation". Ituc-csi.org. 2006-12-14. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Tamara Gausi (21 May 2014). New Global Index Elevates Workers' Rights over "Doing Business". Equal Times. Retrieved 30 May 2014; see also: ITUC Global Rights Index: The world's worst countries for workers.
- "Doing Business – Doing Business: An Independent Evaluation". Web.worldbank.org. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "EWI Revisions". Doingbusiness.org. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "World Bank Doing Business Project and the statistical methods based on ranks: the paradox of the time indicator.". Rivista italiana di economia demografia e statistica, 2014, Volume LXVIII, Issue 1, ideas.repec.org. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
- "Economy rankings". Doingbusiness.org. 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "Singapore Tops World Bank Survey". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 August 2011.