Doing Business 2004

Understanding regulations
Author: Doing Business
Published: September 2003
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Doing Business 2004 is the very first of a series of reports investigating the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. To document the regulation of business and investigate the effect of regulation on such economic outcomes as productivity, unemployment, growth, poverty, and informality, the Doing Business team collected and analyzed data on five topics—starting a business, hiring and firing workers, enforcing a contract, getting credit, and closing a business—for the world’s economies, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Main findings

  • The Doing Business index rated the United States, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, and the Netherlands as the top 5 economies for doing business. 
  • Bangladesh, Haiti, and Mozambique vied for the lowest rating.
  • Heavier regulation was generally associated with more inefficiency in public institutions—longer delays and higher cost—and more unemployed people, corruption, less productivity and investment, but not with better quality of private or public goods. 
  • The report also found that faster contract enforcement was associated with perceptions of greater judicial fairness—suggesting that justice delayed is justice denied.