Countries make laws. Then times change, or the group in power changes, or previous laws have unintended consequences, so they make new laws to change the previous laws. On and on and on, indefinitely. It's called progress.

Is there a quantitative way of measuring this progress that is meaningful for comparing different nations' governments? Simple metrics like number of bills passed isn't quite useful, because different systems favor different amounts of content per bill. Number of pages of bills passed isn't a bad idea either, except the length of a bill is only loosely correlated with its actual legal content, at least in the US.

Does there exist a standard metric for measuring legislative progress over time, applicable across different nations, different states, even comparing state governments and national governments? Does political science have such a concept?


In response to a very reasonable point about positive vs negative change, I think "progress" may not be as reflective a word as "change" here. I'd include backwards-seeming change, because it still shows the legislative efficacy of the system. The goal is to put a number to one question: for any given government, how efficiently can it pass laws?

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The question is what you mean by progress? The Taliban introduced a ton of laws during their regime, but you would not call that progress compared to the democratic constitution of the 1970s before the civil war.

Given the quality of bills and laws matter this is quickly getting very subjective.

I would more look into generic issues like rule of law, corruption etc. aka how well does a country ensure its laws are enacted and enforced along democratic principles.

Cannot vouch for it being unbiased as even statisticians have biases and preconceptions in a loaded, complex structure like this, but something like the rule of law index by the worldjusticeproject: https://worldjusticeproject.org/rule-of-law-index/

So imo what you look for is more how well the structures and processes to enact laws are within a country.

Other stats would be about the concrete passing of certain laws (e.g. LGBT rights/same sex marriage) you can compare, but to some extent that is even more subjective and does not account for different starting points. Best example for this imo is Rwanda. It is not even precisely a democracy, but compared overall it made leaps and bounds in terms of progress coming out of a genocide and now looking better than most of her peers.


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