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Changes to the Methodology, 2005 - 2017

Doing Business 2017

Doing Business 2017 has three major innovations. First it expands the paying taxes indicator set to also cover postfiling processes. Paying taxes is the final indicator set to be changed as part of the methodology update initiated inDoing Business 2015. Second, three indicator sets (starting a business, registering property and enforcing contracts) were expanded to cover a gender dimension, in addition to labor markets regulation which was expanded last year. Starting a business was expanded to also measure the process of starting a business when all shareholders are women. Registering property now also measures equality in ownership rights to property. And enforcing contracts was expanded to measure equality in evidentiary weight for men and women.

Despite the changes in methodology introduced this year, the data under the old and new methodologies are highly correlated. Comparing the ease of Doing Business rankings as calculated using the Doing Business 2016 data and methodology with the rankings as calculated using the Doing Business 2016 data but the Doing Business 2017 methodology shows a correlation very close to 1. In previous years the correlations between same-year data under the methodology for that year and the methodology for the subsequent year were even stronger.

The correction rate between Doing Business 2016 and Doing Business 2017 is 7.1%.

Doing Business 2016

As part of a two-year update in methodology, Doing Business 2016 expanded the focus of five indicator sets (dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, enforcing contracts and labor market regulation), substantially revises the methodology for one indicator set (trading across borders) and implements small updates to the methodology for another (protecting minority investors).

The indicators on dealing with construction permits now include an index of the quality of building regulation and its implementation. The getting electricity indicators now include a measure of the price of electricity consumption and an index of the reliability of electricity supply and transparency of tariffs. The registering property indicators include an index of the quality of the land administration system in each economy in addition to the indicators on the number of procedures and the time and cost to transfer property. And for enforcing contracts an index of the quality and efficiency of judicial processes has been added while the indicator on the number of procedures to enforce a contract has been dropped. The scope of the labor market regulation indicator set has also been expanded, to include more areas capturing aspects of job quality. The labor market regulation indicators continue to be excluded from the aggregate distance to frontier score and ranking on the ease of doing business. The case study underlying the trading across borders indicators has been changed to increase its relevance. For each economy the export product and partner are now determined on the basis of the economy’s comparative advantage, the import product is auto parts, and the import partner is selected on the basis of which economy has the highest trade volume in that product. The indicators continue to measure the time and cost to export and import.

Beyond these changes there is one other update in methodology, for the protecting minority investors indicators. A few points for the extent of shareholder governance index have been fine-tuned, and the index now also measures aspects of the regulations applicable to limited companies rather than privately held joint stock companies. The correction rate between Doing Business 2015 and Doing Business 2016 is 5.3%.

Doing Business 2015

Doing Business 2015 report launched a process of introducing improvements in 9 of the 10 Doing Business indicator sets—to complement the emphasis on the efficiency of regulation with a greater emphasis on its quality. This year’s report and Doing Business 2016 are introducing changes in dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Doing Business 2017 will introduce changes in paying taxes.

Doing Business 2015 incorporates 7 important changes. First, the ease of Doing Business ranking as well as all topic-level rankings are now computed on the basis of distance to frontier scores. Second, for the 11 economies with a population of more than 100 million, data for a second city have been added to the data set and the ranking calculation. Third, for getting credit, the methodology has been revised for both the strength of legal rights index and the depth of credit information index. Fourth, the name of the protecting investors indicator set has been changed to protecting minority investors to better reflect its scope—and the scope of the indicator set has been expanded to include shareholders’ rights in corporate governance beyond related party transactions. Fifth, the resolving insolvency indicator set has been expanded to include an index measuring the strength of the legal framework for insolvency. Sixth, the calculation of the distance to frontier score for paying taxes has been changed. The total tax rate component now enters the score in a nonlinear fashion, in an approach different from that used for all other indicators. Finally, the name of the employing workers indicator set has been changed to labor market regulation, and the scope of this indicator set has also been changed. The indicators now focus on labor market regulations applying to the retail sector rather than the manufacturing sector, and their coverage has been expanded to include regulations on labor disputes and on benefits provided to workers.

Beyond these changes there are 3 other updates in methodology. For paying taxes, the financial statement variables have been updated to be proportional to 2012 income per capita; previously they were proportional to 2005 income per capita. For enforcing contracts, the value of the claim is now set at twice the income per capita or $5,000, whichever is higher. For dealing with construction permits, the cost of construction is now set at 50 times income per capita (before, the cost was assessed by the Doing Business respondents). In addition, this indicator set no longer includes the procedures for obtaining a landline telephone connection.

The correction rate between Doing Business 2014 and Doing Business 2015 is 4%.

Doing Business 2014

The methodology for 2 indicator sets—trading across borders and paying taxes—was updated this year. For trading across borders, documents that are required purely for purposes of preferential treatment are no longer included in the list of documents (for example, a certificate of origin if the use is only to qualify for a preferential tariff rate under trade agreements). For paying taxes, the value of fuel taxes is no longer included in the total tax rate because of the difficulty of computing these taxes in a consistent way across all economies covered. The fuel tax amounts are in most cases very small, and measuring these amounts is often complicated because they depend on fuel consumption. Fuel taxes continue to be counted in the number of payments.

In a change involving several indicator sets, the rule establishing that each procedure must take at least 1 day was removed for procedures that can be fully completed online in just a few hours. This change affects the time indicator for starting a business, dealing with construction permits and registering property. For procedures that can be fully completed online, the duration is now set at half a day rather than a full day.

The threshold for the total tax rate introduced in 2011 for the purpose of calculating the ranking on the ease of paying taxes was updated. All economies with a total tax rate below the threshold (which is calculated and adjusted on a yearly basis) receive the same ranking on the total tax rate indicator.

The correction rate between Doing Business 2013 and Doing Business 2014 is 8.6%.

Doing Business 2013

The ranking methodology for paying taxes was updated this year. The threshold for the total tax rate introduced last year for the purpose of calculating the ranking on the ease of paying taxes was updated. All economies with a total tax rate below the threshold (which is calculated and adjusted on a yearly basis) receive the same ranking on the total tax rate indicator. The threshold is not based on any economic theory of an “optimal tax rate” that minimizes distortions or maximizes efficiency in the tax system of an economy overall. Instead, it is mainly empirical in nature, set at the lower end of the distribution of tax rates levied on medium-size enterprises in the manufacturing sector as observed through the paying taxes indicators. This reduces the bias in the indicators toward economies that do not need to levy significant taxes on companies like the Doing Business standardized case study company because they raise public revenue in other ways—for example, through taxes on foreign companies, through taxes on sectors other than manufacturing or from natural resources (all of which are outside the scope of the methodology). Giving the same ranking to all economies whose total tax rate is below the threshold avoids awarding economies in the scoring for having an unusually low total tax rate, often for reasons unrelated to government policies toward enterprises. For example, economies that are very small or that are rich in natural resources do not need to levy broad-based taxes.

The correction rate between Doing Business 2012 and Doing Business 2013 was 8.6%.

Doing Business 2012

The methodology for 3 of the Doing Business topics was updated this year—getting credit, dealing with construction permits and paying taxes.

First, for getting credit, the scoring of one of the 10 components of the strength of legal rights index was amended to recognize additional protections of secured creditors and borrowers. Previously the highest score of 1 was assigned if secured creditors were not subject to an automatic stay or moratorium on enforcement procedures when a debtor entered a court-supervised reorganization procedure. Now the highest score of 1 is also assigned if the law provides secured creditors with grounds for relief from an automatic stay or moratorium (for example, if the movable property is in danger) or sets a time limit for the automatic stay.

Second, because the ease of Doing Business index now includes the getting electricity indicators, procedures, time and cost related to obtaining an electricity connection were removed from the dealing with construction permits indicators.

Third, a threshold has been introduced for the total tax rate for the purpose of calculating the ranking on the ease of paying taxes. All economies with a total tax rate below the threshold (which will be calculated and adjusted on a yearly basis) will now receive the same ranking on the total tax rate indicator. The threshold is not based on any underlying theory. Instead, it is meant to emphasize the purpose of the indicator: to highlight economies where the tax burden on business is high relative to the tax burden in other economies. Giving the same ranking to all economies whose total tax rate is below the threshold avoids awarding economies in the scoring for having an unusually low total tax rate, often for reasons unrelated to government policies toward enterprises. For example, economies that are very small or that are rich in natural resources do not need to levy broad-based taxes. The correction rate between Doing Business 2011 and Doing Business 2012 was 7%

Doing Business 2011

The methodology for the employing workers indicators was updated this year, with guidance from a consultative group of relevant experts and stakeholders. The employing workers indicators are not included in this year’s aggregate ranking on the ease of Doing Business.

Changes agreed as of the date of publication are the following: the calculation of the minimum wage ratio was changed to ensure that no economy can receive the highest score if it has no minimum wage at all, if the law provides a regulatory mechanism for the minimum wage that is not enforced in practice, if there is only a customary minimum wage or if the minimum wage applies only to the public sector. A minimum threshold was set for paid annual leave and a ceiling for working days allowed per week to ensure that no economy benefits in the scoring from excessive flexibility in these areas. Finally, the calculation of the redundancy cost and of the annual leave period for the rigidity of hours index was changed to refer to the average value for a worker with 1 year of tenure, a worker with 5 years and a worker with 10 years rather than the value for a worker with 20 years of tenure. The correction rate between Doing Business 2010 and Doing Business 2011 was 5.7%.

Doing Business 2010

The methodology for one of the Doing Business topics—employing workers—was updated in Doing Business 2010. The assumptions for the standardized case study were changed to refer to a small- to mediumsize company with 60 employees rather than 201. The scope of the question on night and weekly holiday work has been limited to manufacturing activities in which continuous operation is economically necessary. Legally mandated wage premiums for night and weekly holiday work up to a threshold are no longer considered a restriction. In addition, the calculation of the minimum wage ratio was modified to ensure that an economy would not benefit in the scoring from lowering the minimum wage to below $1.25 a day, adjusted for purchasing power parity. This level is consistent with recent adjustments to the absolute poverty line. Finally, the calculation of the redundancy cost was adjusted so that having severance payments or unemployment protections below a certain threshold does not mean a better score for an economy. The correction rate between Doing Business 2009 and Doing Business 2010 was 5.5%.

Doing Business 2009

The methodology for one of the Doing Business topics—getting credit—improved in Doing Business 2009. Three main changes were made, affecting only the strength of legal rights index. First, a standardized case scenario with specific assumptions was introduced to bring this indicator into line with other Doing Business indicators. Second, the indicator now focuses not on tangible movable collateral, such as equipment, but on revolving movable collateral, such as accounts receivable and inventory. Third, the indicator no longer considers whether management remains in place during a reorganization procedure, better accommodating economies that adopt reorganization procedures similar to Chapter 11 reorganization or redressement procedures in civil law systems. The correction rate between Doing Business 2008 and Doing Business 2009 was 6%.

Doing Business 2008

The methodology for three of the Doing Business topics—dealing with licenses, employing workers and enforcing contracts—was improved in Doing Business 2008. For dealing with licenses, three changes were made. First, the case study now applies to builders that are fully licensed and insured at the start of the project. As a result, procedures that involve insuring or licensing the construction business are no longer counted. Second, inspections are now assumed to take 1 day to complete even where there is a delay between the request for an inspection and its occurrence. This change was made to eliminate discretion in interpreting the time that respondents report for inspections. Third, preconstruction inspections were added to the list of procedures; these affect mainly countries in the former Soviet Union. The first two changes reduce the number of procedures and delays associated with the case study; the third increases them.

For employing workers, improvements were made to align the Doing Business methodology with International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. It is now possible for an economy to receive the highest score on the ease of employing workers—indicating the most flexible labor regulations—and comply with all 187 ILO conventions. Two main changes were made. First, the calculation of firing costs was modified so that 8 or fewer weeks of salary now receives a score of 0 for purposes of calculating the rankings on the ease of employing workers. Second, restrictions on night work such as higher overtime premiums or limitations on scheduling work hours are no longer coded as rigidities. Both changes result in more flexibility in employment regulations as coded in Doing Business.

For enforcing contracts, the list of procedures was revised to accommodate procedural differences between civil and common law. For example, in civil law countries the judge appoints an independent expert, while in common law countries parties send the court a list of their expert witnesses. Two assumptions were added, on attaching the defendant’s goods prior to judgment and on providing expert opinions. To indicate the overall efficiency of court procedures, 1 procedure is now subtracted for countries that have specialized commercial courts and 1 procedure for countries that allow electronic filing of court cases. Finally, the cost indicator now includes all fees for enforcing judgments.

Doing Business 2007

The methodology for four of the Doing Business topics changed for Doing Business 2007. For paying taxes, the total tax rate measure now includes all labor contributions paid by the employer (such as social security contributions) and excludes consumption taxes (such as sales tax or value added tax). And the measure is now expressed as a percentage of commercial profits rather than gross profits. This change reflects the total tax burden borne by businesses. For enforcing contracts, the case study was revised to reflect a typical contractual dispute over the quality of goods rather than a simple debt default. For trading across borders, Doing Business now reports the cost associated with exporting and importing cargo in addition to the time and number of documents required. And for employing workers, hiring costs are no longer included in the calculation of the ease of employing workers.

Doing Business 2006

In 2005, in addition to developing new indicators on dealing with licenses, trading across borders and paying taxes, the indicators on two other topics were expanded.

Firstly, changes were made to the protecting investors indicators. The disclosure index in Doing Business 2005 captured seven ways of enhancing disclosure: whether laws and regulations require reporting (i) family; (ii) indirect and (iii) beneficial ownership; (iv) disclosing information on voting agreements between shareholders; (v) audit committees to the board of directors; (vi) use of external auditors; and (vii) ownership and financial information is publicly available to all current and potential investors. The strength of investor protection index in Doing Business in 2006—comprising the extent of disclosure index, the extent of directors liability index, and the ease of shareholder suit index—targeted the indicator set on the specific issue of self-dealing within corporations. The new approach provides a more focused, in-depth understanding of each country’s legal protections against corporate looting.

Secondly, the indicators on employing workers were expanded to include the non-salary cost of hiring a worker, which consists of all social security and payroll taxes paid by an employer on behalf of a worker.

Doing Business 2005

Changes were made to every set of indicators in 2004. For example, previously the statutory requirement for minimum capital was taken as part of the initial cost of starting a business. But in a number of countries, only a part of the mandated minimum capital needs to be paid up-front, with the rest paid over time. For example, only 25% is paid upfront in Germany, 30% in Italy and 50% in Armenia. The revised indicator reflects the up-front cost only.

Indicators of credit markets were also improved. In 2003 we reported a measure of the legal rights of creditors in insolvency. In 2004, the measure is expanded to cover collateral laws as well—which define legal rights that help both borrowers and lenders. And indicators on credit information were simplified to an index of six variables, covering information sharing from both public and privately owned registries.

As another example, 2003’s methodology for enforcing a contract did not allow for a creditor to seek recovery outside the courts. This assumption was made in the belief that such actions may always be reversed by a later court judgment and are not preferred by creditors. But several countries—for example, Belgium, France and Greece—have administrative debt collection procedures that are binding for both debtors and creditors. In 2004, administrative procedures are used for countries where the respondents indicate they are the most common method.

A different problem arises when the respondents describe how entrepreneurs would register a business, go to court or enter bankruptcy—but in reality have dealt little with such transactions. To gauge their experience, this year’s surveys collected information on how many such transactions the respondent completed. The new evidence shows that the average incorporation lawyer dealt with more than 100 cases of business entry in 2003. And because Doing Business has about 500 respondents on starting a business, the data reported here reflect experience with more than 50,000 transactions for the whole sample—for only one of the topics in Doing Business. Beyond the arithmetic, a professional dealing with these issues every day can differentiate between usual costs and delays and those under extraordinary circumstances.

To inspire reform, indicators need to be simple. Changes to the methodology have been made where users of the indicators said they had trouble understanding them. For example, 2003's indices on the rigidity of employment regulation were based on a reading of the laws and varied from 0 (less rigid regulation) to 100 (more rigid regulation). Many business people asked whether the indices could be presented in terms of costs. So in 2004, a new indicator on the cost of firing a redundant worker has been constructed, measured in terms of weeks of wages.

For another example, 2003's indicators on the difficulty of closing a business looked at the cost, time, priority of claims and extent of court involvement. Policymakers have said that they are most concerned about how much value is being lost in inefficient bankruptcy procedures. The result is a new indicator, which calculates how many cents on the dollar can be recovered in bankruptcy.

Once the simple indicator triggers interest in reform, by comparing it with those for other countries and by showing the economic and social benefits of improvement, more detailed information collected by the Doing Business team can be used to assist the reformers. One example is the indicators on registering property. Once the government of Malawi acknowledges the need to make registration more efficient, the depth of the analysis allows further investigation of where the reform should focus. In particular, the third procedure—the requirement to obtain consent from the minister of lands for the property transfer—is the largest bottleneck to registering property. Cutting this procedure would reduce the time by 75%.

Data have also been collected on the actual use of courts in filing for bankruptcy. This is a first attempt to measure use of public institutions and hence the relevance of bankruptcy laws for the average business. The result: in 40 countries bankruptcy is hardly ever used. The analysis of such data helps in setting priorities for reform and in designing improvements to indicators. The 2004 data set presents new indicators on collateral laws to address how creditors enforce their rights outside of bankruptcy.