Doing Business 2014 Data Notes
The indicators presented and analyzed in Doing Business measure business regulation and the protection of property rights—and their effect on businesses, especially small and medium-size domestic firms. First, the indicators document the complexity of regulation, such as the number of procedures to start a business or to register and transfer commercial property. Second, they gauge the time and cost to achieve a regulatory goal or comply with regulation, such as the time and cost to enforce a contract, go through bankruptcy or trade across borders. Third, they measure the extent of legal protections of property, for example, the protections of investors against looting by company directors or the range of assets that can be used as collateral according to secured transactions laws. Fourth, a set of indicators documents the tax burden on businesses. Finally, a set of data covers different aspects of employment regulation. The 11 sets of indicators measured in Doing Business were added over time, and the sample of economies expanded (table 21.1).
The data for all sets of indicators in Doing Business 2014 are for June 2013 except for paying taxes data that refer to January–December 2012.
The Doing Business data are collected in a standardized way. To start, the Doing Business team, with academic advisers, designs a questionnaire. The questionnaire uses a simple business case to ensure comparability across economies and over time—with assumptions about the legal form of the business, its size, its location and the nature of its operations. Questionnaires are administered to more than 10,200 local experts, including lawyers, business consultants, accountants, freight forwarders, government officials and other professionals routinely administering or advising on legal and regulatory requirements (table 21.2). These experts have several rounds of interaction with the Doing Business team, involving conference calls, written correspondence and visits by the team. For Doing Business 2014 team members visited 33 economies to verify data and recruit respondents. The data from questionnaires are subjected to numerous rounds of verification, leading to revisions or expansions of the information collected.
The Doing Business methodology offers several advantages. It is transparent, using factual information about what laws and regulations say and allowing multiple interactions with local respondents to clarify potential misinterpretations of questions. Having representative samples of respondents is not an issue; Doing Business is not a statistical survey, and the texts of the relevant laws and regulations are collected and answers checked for accuracy. The methodology is inexpensive and easily replicable, so data can be collected in a large sample of economies. Because standard assumptions are used in the data collection, comparisons and benchmarks are valid across economies. Finally, the data not only highlight the extent of specific regulatory obstacles to business but also identify their source and point to what might be reformed.
Limits to what is measured
The Doing Business methodology has 5 limitations that should be considered when interpreting the data. First, the collected data refer to businesses in the economy’s largest business city (which in some economies differs from the capital) and may not be representative of regulation in other parts of the economy. To address this limitation, subnational Doing Business indicators were created (box 21.1). Second, the data often focus on a specific business form—generally a limited liability company (or its legal equivalent) of a specified size—and may not be representative of the regulation on other businesses, for example, sole proprietorships. Third, transactions described in a standardized case scenario refer to a specific set of issues and may not represent the full set of issues a business encounters. Fourth, the measures of time involve an element of judgment by the expert respondents. When sources indicate different estimates, the time indicators reported in Doing Business represent the median values of several responses given under the assumptions of the standardized case.
Finally, the methodology assumes that a business has full information on what is required and does not waste time when completing procedures. In practice, completing a procedure may take longer if the business lacks information or is unable to follow up promptly. Alternatively, the business may choose to disregard some burdensome procedures. For both reasons the time delays reported in Doing Business 2014 would differ from the recollection of entrepreneurs reported in the World Bank Enterprise Surveys or other perception surveys.
Changes in what is measured
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 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). This year the threshold is 25,5%.
Data challenges and revisions
Most laws and regulations underlying the Doing Business data are available on the Doing Business website. All the sample questionnaires and the details underlying the indicators are also published on the website. Questions on the methodology and challenges to data can be submitted through the website.
Doing Business publishes 10,584 indicators (56 indicators per country) each year. To create these indicators, the team measures more than about 58,000 data points, each of which is made available on the Doing Business website. Historical data for each indicator and economy are available on the website, beginning with the first year the indicator or economy was included in the report. To provide a comparable time series for research, the data set is back-calculated to adjust for changes in methodology and any revisions in data due to corrections. The website also makes available all original data sets used for background papers. The correction rate between Doing Business 2013 and Doing Business 2014 is 8.6%.
Governments submit queries on the data and provide new information to Doing Business. During the Doing Business 2014 production cycle the team received 82 such queries from governments.