This project updates a key dataset for the comparative study of international labour laws in 117 countries.

The updated CBR Labour Regulation Index Dataset (‘CBR-LRI’), the product of work at the Centre for Business Research (CBR), will provide data on labour laws in 117 countries for the period from (in most cases) the 1970s to 2021. Digit funding has enabled new data to be added covering the period 2013-2022.

The index aims to provide a measure of the extent to which a given aspect of employment or labour relations is regulated (from the point of view of the employer) or protected (from the point of view of the worker).

How are workers protected by laws around the world? An introduction to the CBR-LRI

A Digit Data Commentary outlines how the dataset is constructed and some emerging findings. Further analysis using the dataset will provide insight into the long-term economic and social impacts of labour regulation.

The Index is becoming widely used by the research community, governments, and international agencies, to study the interaction of legal and institutional change with wider economic, political and social trends, including the rise of the platform economy.


The CBR-LRI is constructed using a version of ‘leximetric’ methodology which provides a basis for the quantitative analysis of legal rules (Lele and Siems, 2007; Adams and Deakin, 2015). The process is detailed in the Codebook that accompanies the dataset.

Key findings

Analysis using the updated dataset is ongoing however two key trends emerge in the 2023 update:

  • First, dismissal laws in many countries strengthened in response to the Covid-19 emergency, as governments sought to stabilise employment during the pandemic.
  • Second, in many countries platform work is increasingly being assimilated to the rules governing regular employment.

Analysis based on the dataset

Earlier versions of the CBR-LRI have been used to test some of the key claims made in debates over the economic and social effects of labour laws. Emerging findings include:

  • Worker-protective labour laws tend to increase the labour share of national income, (the proportion of income going to wages and salaries) (Adams et al., 2019).
  • Labour protection is positively correlated with productivity (Deakin and Sarkar, 2008).
  • Employment protection legislation is positively correlated with innovation, as measured by the number of patents filed by firms (Acharya et al., 2013; Belloc, 2019).
  • The employment effects of labour protection are mostly positive, although the magnitudes of the observed effects are small (Adams et al., 2019).

Access the dataset

The dataset can be accessed via the University of Cambridge repository.


Additional research support from Tvisha Shroff

Research outputs

The economic effects of changes in labour laws: new evidence for the UK
Simon Deakin and Kamelia Pourkermani (April 2024), Digit Policy Brief

Measuring Labour Regulation: worker protections around the world
Billa, Bishop, Deakin, Pourkermani and Shroff (2023), Digit Data Commentary 04

Digit research on economic impacts of labour laws highlighted at APPG on Future of Work
New research exploring the relationship between changing UK labour laws and economic indicators has been published in a Digit Policy Brief.