How (Not) to Measure Institutions

26 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009

See all articles by Stefan Voigt

Stefan Voigt

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: February 1, 2009


The statement institutions matter has become commonplace. A precondition for it to be supported by empirical evidence, is, however, that institutions are measurable. Glaeser et al. (2004) attacks many studies claiming to prove the relevance of institutions for economic development as being based on flawed measures of institutions, or not even on institutions at all. This paper shows that their criticism deserves to be taken seriously, but that it is somewhat overblown. Some of the difficulties in measuring institutions are described and some ways of measuring them are proposed.

Keywords: Institutions, Institutions vs. Policies, Measurement, Formal vs. Informal Institutions

JEL Classification: B41, C81, C82, H11, K00, O17, O43, O57

Suggested Citation

Voigt, Stefan, How (Not) to Measure Institutions (February 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Stefan Voigt (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
+49-40-428385782 (Phone)
+49-40-428386794 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

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