Somewhere in my blog I told the story of my unfulfilled promise to do my PhD. In short, I promised my grandmother Ora Alperovich, before she died in 1994, that one day I would have a PhD like my father (who had one in Physics from Harvard University). For her my two Master´s from Columbia University were not enough and she was terribly disappointed when I was accepted to do a PhD in Economics at Oxford, but did not go. During her last days before her lymphoma took her away, she kept going on and on about how important it was for Jewish people to be well educated and she asked me to promise her that I would do my PhD one day.

My grandma had grown up in a very antisemitic Russia and left only to see Nazis coming close to winning WWII (she feared they would win and then Argentina would hand over all the Jews as other countries had done). Basically, her view of the Jewish people is that, unfortunately, we were always going to be on the run and that the more knowledge we carried around with us the better we could do.

While I think that the global environment for Jews has changed for the better since my grandmother´s time, I am sometimes concerned about my unfulfilled promise to my grandmother. Hence, I keep coming up with ideas for my PhD thesis. As I am managing Fon full time and don´t have time for a PhD, I decided that for now I am just going to blog these ideas which is all I have time to do.

My latest idea is called Legislation Efficiency Index or LEI, and the thesis would be the development of this index. What does LEI measure? Basically, how effective legislators are in each country. And how would I construct a comparative index along these lines? Here´s the plan.

My own experience:

I used to live in the USA, a country that has many laws and regulations and a high level of compliance. I now live in Spain, a country that seems to have even more laws and regulations, but a considerably lower level of compliance. To me neither system is an ideal society, but USA seems to have a higher LEI. How would I measure this?

I would work with three variables:

C$=GDP per capita, as a proxy for country development.

CL=number of total laws.

CC=number of laws complied by over 95% of the population.

And the formula would be

LEI=C$xCC/CL

So LEI would be a countries GDP discounted by a factor of percentage laws complied with by most.

To give an example, boat owners in the US don´t need a license to sail. In Spain they do and it´s extremely complicated to get one. Result? One less law for USA and one more poorly complied law in Spain as many sail without a license. And this is true of many other laws that exist in Spain and are not complied with.

I know this formula is an oversimplification in many respects. Complications would arise from countries, like the USA, which require many more law enforcemen personnel and many more people in jail to have their citizens comply with a law. USA has more people in jail than Madrid has citizens, is this efficient?

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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briconcella on May 30, 2006  · 

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