The 2020 Bureaucracy Index and International Bureaucracy Day

International Bureaucracy Day
Martin Vlachynsky

Martin Vlachynsky | Analyst, Institute of Economic and Social Studies

In 2016, Slovakia’s Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) introduced the Bureaucracy Index, which draws attention to the amount of red tape a small entrepreneur has to navigate on a daily basis. The Index is based on a straightforward methodology, using the analysis of a model micro company and all of its bureaucratic obligations—such as taxes, worktime planning, health safety measures, and even waste management, among others—which are assigned a specific time cost.

This year, think tanks from Lithuania (Lithuanian Free Market Institute), the Czech Republic (Liberální Institut), North Macedonia (Macedonia 2025), Spain (Civismo) and Italy (Competere) joined INESS and prepared national adaptations of the Bureaucracy Index. Spain and Italy are the most onerous, with 369 and 312 hours, respectively, spent annually by entrepreneurs dealing with government bureaucracy, followed by Lithuania (271), the Czech Republic (223), and Slovakia (217).

All partners shared the results of their Bureaucracy Index calculations with the media and public on September 29, 2020. Despite the epidemiologic burdens in many partner countries, multiple events attracted a broad audience of media outlets and interested stakeholders. Notably, in Slovakia, the Deputy Minister of Economy joined a panel at the press conference to present government plans to tackle bureaucracy. Additionally, in North Macedonia, several consultations meetings/workshops on measures to reduce the burden on companies will be held in the upcoming weeks.

INESS and participating think tanks intentionally released their Bureaucracy Index calculations on September 29 to mark the birthday of Ukrainian economist Ludwig von Mises, who was one of the first economists to systematically study the phenomenon of bureaucracy. He published his findings in the book entitled Bureaucracy. In honor of Ludwig von Mises’ influential work, INESS promotes September 29 as International Bureaucracy Day.

Our ambition is to promote International Bureaucracy Day as a moral encouragement for entrepreneurs, accountants, administrators, lawyers—all who are forced to sacrifice hours of precious time on the altar of bureaucracy by filling out endless forms and document.