Hypothesis: Regulation of an economy favors big businesses over small ones, because big businesses have the resources to influence lawmakers and regulators (through lobbying and other efforts) as well as the wherewithal to manage complex regulations with attorneys and accountants; whereas small businesses would tend to suffer more from regulations since they lack the same resources.
Method: If the hypothesis is true, then the largest companies in heavily-regulated economies should tend to be older than the largest companies in less-regulated environments. The ten largest companies in each of the following countries were chosen from the Forbes Global 2000: US, UK, EU, Japan, Australia, and Canada. The UK was kept separate from the rest of the EU because it has a distinctly different legal history than the continent.
|Forbes Rank||Company||Year Founded|
|4||Bank of America||1902|
|14||JP Morgan Chase||1799|
| Average age of American companies ||109.6|
|13||Royal Bank of Scotland||1727|
| Average age of British companies ||210.7|
| Average age of EU-member companies ||134.6|
|52||Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial||1948|
| Average age of Japanese companies ||97.4|
|91||National Australia Bank||1858|
|139||Commonwealth Bank Group||1911|
|154||Westpac Banking Group||1861|
|519||St. George Bank||1848|
| Average age of Australian companies ||125.2|
|89||Royal Bank of Canada||1864|
|129||Bank of Nova Scotia||1832|
|157||Canadian Imperial Bank||1867|
|159||Sun Life Financial||1865|
|171||Bank of Montreal||1817|
|271||Power Corp of Canada||1925|
| Average age of Canadian companies ||131.1|
Discussion: While not conclusive (true regression analysis would really need to be performed in this case, with larger data sets for each country), the data appear to support the hypothesis. The average age of Japanese companies appears to reflect the significance of the considerable destruction in Japan during WWII, as well as the influence of the post-war American administration. Though Canada and Australia are both essentially the same age as the United States and share virtually identical legal traditions, their large companies are on average 15 to 20 years older than large companies in the US. Since the US is generally thought to have had one of the world's least-regulated economies over the last century, its largest companies should tend to be significantly younger than those in more heavily-regulated countries.