About the Doing Business Report

Doing Business measures and analyzes regulations that apply to small and medium size local businesses in 185 economies. The report is based on 10 indicators and updated on an annual basis. The indicators reflect on regulations affecting local businesses throughout their life cycle, capturing such areas as start-up regulations, the efficiency of court systems, trading across borders, and paying taxes. To find out more about the Doing Business Report visit: http://www.doingbusiness.org

Final Report of the Independent Panel

Doing Business Review Panel Report [pdf, 2.10 MB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks [pdf, 375 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - French [pdf, 129 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - Chinese [pdf, 251 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - Arabic [pdf, 104 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - Russian [pdf, 154 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - Japanese [pdf, 210 KB]

Press Statement and Opening Remarks - Spanish [pdf, 127 KB]

Doing Business Panel Review press conference June 2013 [pdf, 290 KB]

(Posted on June 24th 2013)

Statement from the Independent Panel

Today we release our review of the Doing Business report.

The Independent Review Panel was appointed on October 19, 2012, by the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.


There are 11 independent panelists, including myself, and most of them are in the room today. They are:

  • Dr. Jihad Azour, Managing Director, Inventis Partners, former Minister of Finance, Lebanon.
  • Prof. Timothy Besley, Professor of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics.
  • Prof. Chong-en Bai, Professor of Economics and Chairperson of the Economics Department, Tsing Hua University, Beijing.
  • Prof. Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics and Rector at the New Economic School in Moscow, Russia.
  • Dr. Huguette Labelle, Chair of the Board of Directors, Transparency International.
  • Prof. Hendrik Wolff, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Washington.

The following panelists could not attend due to professional commitments:

  • Prof. Carlos Arruda, Associate Dean for Innovation and Competitiveness, and Coordinator of the Innovation Center of Fundação Dom Cabral, Brazil.
  • Prof. Dong-Sung Cho, Professor of Strategy and International Business at Seoul National University.
  • Prof. Jean Pierre Landau, Visiting Lecturer of Public and International Affairs and former Deputy Governor of Banque de France.
  • Minister Arun Maira, Member of the Planning Commission of the Government of India and former Chairperson of the Boston Consulting Group in India.

We were also assisted by two advisers, Mr. Peter Bakvis and Prof. Jeffrey Owens.

Please take note of three important points about the Panel. First, we did not craft our own terms of reference; these were given to us by the World Bank. Second, panel members were invited to serve, not self-selected. And, third, we did it for the common good.


Our findings are the product of extensive consultation with all those who have an interest in the Doing Business report. We met with a range of key stakeholders within the World Bank Group, including the report’s authors. We also met with key external parties representing the private sector, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as governments, civil society organizations, and interested individuals.

In total, we received 165 written submissions, including comments from 76 governments and their respective ministries and agencies; 25 civil society organizations representing the views of more than 65 such groups; 32 private-sector organizations, ranging from large multinational corporations to smaller firms; and 32 individuals from around the world.

The Panel noted early on that the Doing Business report was layered with inordinate complexity. It is therefore up to the World Bank, in the days ahead, to scrutinize the report’s “clarity-of-purpose”. The quest for such clarity must precede the search for certainty.

The Panel adopted a rigorous approach, and we know that we have taken difficult decisions. We began from the premise that, as the Doing Business report was going into its 10th year of publication, the time had come to ask the tough questions about both the regulations being measured and the processes being assessed.


Any report that opts to demonstrate causally linked outcomes must be able to stand or fall on its evidentiary rigor, and on its policy orientation. The Doing Business Report was, as we have come to discover, lacking in both these areas.

The Doing Business report attempts to provide a wide-ranging assessment of the business climate in 185 countries, primarily through the lens of formal regulations and procedures. It focuses on de jure (according to law) aspects of the business environment as they apply to small and medium-sized enterprises, with limited attention paid to implementation and customary practice.

The report ranks economies on 10 areas of regulation, which the report calls “topics” – starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.

Over the decade that it has been published, Doing Business has achieved a great deal of influence. It is the leading tool to judge the business environments of developing countries, generating huge global media coverage every year. Several countries – such as Rwanda – have used it as a guide to design reform programs. For its part, the Bank has advised over 80 countries on reforms to regulations measured in the report. Its influence stretches even to academia, with over 1,000 articles being published in peer-reviewed journals using data in the Doing Business report index.


The Panel has analyzed the publication’s contents over time. We recommend that the Bank continue to publish the Doing Business report, but that certain key considerations around its reliability, validity, and methodology should be revisited. Our major concerns include the following:

  • The Doing Business report has the potential to be misinterpreted.
  • It relies on a narrow information source.
  • It only measures regulations applicable to categories of business that can be captured through its methodology.
  • Its data-collection methodology can be improved.
  • It is not designed to help countries respond appropriately.
  • The Paying Taxes and Employing Workers topics require additional consideration.
  • The governance of the project is insufficient.
  • The use of aggregate rankings is problematic.

Flowing from these findings, the Panel recommends that the World Bank:  

  • Retain the Doing Business Report.
  • Remove the aggregate rankings.
  • Group by topic or shift to categories as an alternative to ranking.
  • Change the report’s title.
  • Implement a peer-review process.
  • Increase the report’s level of transparency.
  • Reform the report’s methodology.
  • Align the report with the World Bank’s mandate and other flagship publications.
  • Relocate the report in the World Bank.
  • Improve the report’s governance framework.
  • Improve the report’s communication strategy.
  • Ensure the use of complementary information available in enterprise surveys.

What happens next is up to the World Bank . It is our hope and desire that all panelists will now be able to resume their normal lives. We trust that the World Bank will advance in the same spirit that the Panel has demonstrated in its work.

We understand that the publication of the 2014 Doing Business report will proceed as normal – because our report was not completed in time for pre-publication consideration – and the requisite caveats and warnings will be noted in the 2014 report.

The terms of reference given to the Panel clearly spelled out our mandate. We have discharged our obligations, duties, and responsibilities. We have no further mandate. All decisions now rest with the World Bank.


Thanking you

Trevor Manuel
Chairperson: The Independent Doing Business Review Panel

(Posted on June 24th 2013)