Costing, Comparing and Competing Developing an Approach to the Benchmarking of Labour Market Regulation

The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ survey seeks to measure and compare the costs to business of various types of regulation, including labour regulation. As such it is an important driver of labour market ‘reform’ globally and in South Africa. It may also be encouraging a tendency of different systems of regulation to converge.
Focussing on labour regulation, the study considers the validity of endeavours to measure labour regulation, and identifies a number of methodological problems that constrain any such endeavour. It then focuses specifically on the methodology utilised in the ‘Doing Business’ survey, and its results for South Africa. It presents evidence that certain scores arrived at in the case of South Africa are incorrect, materially affecting South Africa’s ranking in terms of the survey. These errors can be attributed to shortcoming in the survey’s methodology as well as the simplistic conceptions of law reflected in the surveys.
This finding does not imply endeavours to measure the costs of regulation are without value. Instead the study advocates developing different indicators to measure the impact of labour regulation, and drawing on existing data and research to arrive at more objective results.