Symposium: The Future of Law and Development, Part IV

Sokol, D. Daniel,Kaufmann, Daniel | January 10, 2010

This Symposium has been a wonderful forum for identifying a number of challenges that Law and Development will face going forward. Like many of the contributors, I have thought about these issues as both an academic and as a practitioner/government adviser. I have concluded that the Law and Development movement suffers from both an inability to get good results (if we could figure out what “good” results actually are) and a lack of follow up regarding implementation efforts. As to the former, it is not clear to me that those of us in the field actually know what results we want to achieve—or that we can actually (and accurately) measure them. Mariana Prado noted that in some areas it is easy to gauge success, such as in antitrust or telecoms. If telecom prices go down, Prado suggests, the antitrust suit is successful. I would argue that quantifying success is not so easy, even in these areas. In many cases, looking at easily quantifiable measures such as case counts or the number of successful prosecutions does not in fact measure success. Agencies might bring lots of small but unimportant antitrust cases to raise their number of wins. Moreover, agencies might bring a “winning” case even if the underlying economics behind the case do not mesh with any real consumer loss. For example, in a given developing world country, competitors might push the agency to bring a series of vertical restraints cases against efficient competitors. Finally, even if lower telecom rates result from an antitrust win, is such a win really a success of Law and Development? We have serious endogeneity issues in trying to attribute reduced telecom rates to a particular technical assistance intervention. It could be that rates would have gone lower regardless of the antitrust case. Foreign entrants, changes in technology across platforms (such as voice over internet or wimax), or a change in tariff policy by the telecom regulator may have affected telecom rates.