Database description and elaboration

The source for the information presented here is a database of regulatory agencies built on a non-nested structure of data or two-way cross-classification (Jordana and Levi-Faur 2005). Thus, we observe regulatory agencies according to two overlapping categories of attributes: countries and sectors.

The scope

The database comprises regulatory agencies in 17 policy sectors and in all countries having a population of more than 10 million inhabitants and/or a GDP level above current US$100,000 million and that were operative on 31 December 2010. Policy sectors include central banking, competition, electricity, environment, financial services, food security, gas, health services, insurance, nuclear safety, pensions, pharmaceuticals, postal services, security and exchange, telecommunications, water and work safety.

Thus, we have collected data for 800 regulatory agencies in 17 policy sectors and 115 countries (Map 2.1). Though not fulfilling the population or GDP criteria, additional countries were included in the database to complete different regional integration initiatives in three regions. These refer to the Andean Community (CAN), the Common Southern Market (MERCOSUR), the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in America; Europe taken as the European Union 27 + European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and South East Asia through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Map 2.1 Countries included in the database

To be included in our dataset, a regulatory agency should fulfill the following four main criteria:

  • 1. Regulatory agencies should have an organizational identity; they should represent an organizational unit formally separated from larger departmental and ministerial structures or from public bureaucratic frames;
  • 2. Regulatory agencies should focus on regulatory tasks, namely, rule supervision, rule enhancement and rule definition, among others;
  • 3. Regulatory agencies should be stable and public entities, regulated by public legal acts and ordinances, and performing public tasks; their employees should be public servants - whether tenured or not - and their budget under public control;
  • 4. Regulatory agencies should be of national scope.

The construction of the database relied on the information available on regulatory agencies' websites, which was meticulously scrutinized and juxtaposed against legal documents - laws, decrees, ordinances and statutes - and complemented with other available sources. Our database does not provide an exact and detailed mapping of regulatory agencies in the world, but rather works on a sample of regulatory agencies to explore variation across countries and policy sectors. As mentioned, one of the specificities of the collected data is that the units are clustered in non-nested structures. To the extent that every unit thus shares characteristics with the units of the same country and the same sector, the analysis builds on the variation observed within the country component - how one country behaves compared to others - and within the sector component - how one sector behaves compared to others - simultaneously (Bianculli et al. 2013).

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