WASHINGTON -- An independent World Bank review of its highly cited annual report on the ease of doing business around the globe has recommended that it stop ranking countries because the listings can be misinterpreted.
Instead, the Doing Business report simply should present the scores for each country’s economy in the 10 areas that are annually assessed, including the ease of starting a business, obtaining electricity and enforcing contracts.
“It is important to remember that the report is intended to be a pure knowledge project,” said the 59-page assessment, commissioned by new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
“As such, its role is to inform policy, not to prescribe it or outline a normative position, which the rankings to some extent do,” said the findings from a panel of 11 experts.
Singapore ranked first in the World Bank’s latest rankings, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States and Denmark.
Some developing nations, such as China, which ranked 91st, have complained about the rankings and have pushed for changes. The rankings gives preference to free-market economies with established legal systems.
The panel said the World Bank should continue producing the report, which is in its 10th year, but eliminate the aggregate Ease of Doing Business index.
The panel, which was made up largely of academics, said it met with a range of stakeholders and received written comments from governments and private groups. The panel found that the Doing Business report “was layered with inordinate complexity.”
Among the other recommendations were to increase the report’s level of transparency, change its title and implement a peer-review process.
[For the Record, 10:19 a.m. PST June 24: An earlier version of this post stated that World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was a member of the 12-member review panel. He was not a member, and the panel had only 11 members.]