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The 2016 edition of World Development Indicators is out: three features you won’t want to miss

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Also available in: 中文 | Français | Español | العربية

We’re excited to announce the release of the 2016 edition of World Development Indicators (WDI).

With over 1 million downloads last year, WDI is the most widely used dataset in our Open Data Catalog and it provides high-quality cross-country comparable statistics about development and people’s lives around the globe. You can:

WDI now includes 1,400 indicators for over 200 economies. While we update the WDI database quarterly and make historical versions available, this annual release of a new edition is an opportunity to review the trends we’re seeing in global development and discuss updates we’ve made to our data and methods.

We’ve gone from the MDGs to the SDGs with expanded data and illustrations of trends

The WDI team aims to produce a curated set of indicators relevant to the changing needs of the development community. The new edition includes indicators to help measure the 169 targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - these build on the 8 goals and 18 targets of the Millennium Development Goals we focused on in previous editions, but are far wider in scope and far more ambitious. A complementary Sustainable Development Goals data dashboard provides an interactive presentation of the indicators we have in the WDI database that are related to each goal.

For each of the 17 SDGs the World View section of the publication includes recent trends and baselines against key targets. Data experts in the World Bank’s Data Group and subject specialists in the Bank’s Global Practices and Cross Cutting Solution Areas teamed up to identify new and existing indicators and assess key trends for each goal and for three cross-cutting areas: statistical capacity; fragility, conflict and violence; and financial inclusion.

A series of blogs will look further at data and the SDGs, and review some of the measurement challenges. To give you an idea of how interesting some of the trends are, here are four charts we found striking:

While undernourishment has been halved globally since 1990, over a quarter of the population in low-income countries still can’t meet their dietary energy requirements.

Good records of births and deaths are key to delivering government programs and services, but in Sub-Saharan africa, fewer than half of children’s births were recorded in 2011.

While some regions have increased forest coverage, Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa lost 97 and 83 million hectares respectively since 1990.

Since the 1980s there has been a dramatic rise in aquaculture - fish, shellfish, and seaweed farming.  We now farm as much fish as we catch. (The resemblance between this chart and the shape of a fish is pleasing, but coincidental!)

Download the World Development Indicators from the Bank's Open Knowledge Repository

We’re no longer distinguishing between “developing” and “developed” countries

Last November, Tariq Khokhar and Umar Serajuddin  asked the question: “Should we continue to use the term ‘developing world?” The conclusion was that it’s becoming less relevant, and with the focus of the SDGs on goals for the whole world, we should start phasing out the term “developing world” in our data publications and databases.

Classifying countries by income: A new working paper

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"The World By Income"

We’ve
just released a working paper reviewing the Bank’s classification of countries by income. As Tariq Khokhar and Umar Serajuddin pointed out in their recent blog about whether we should call countries developing or not, there’s a strong appetite for classifying and ranking countries. Where is the best country to live, according to the OECD? (it depends, but it might be Australia, Norway or Sweden.) Which are making the most social progress, according to the Social Progress Imperative? (Norway and Sweden again.) Where is it easiest to do business, according to the World Bank? (Singapore.) Which countries have highest or lowest human development, according to the United Nations Development Program? (that’s Norway once more, and Niger is lowest.).

Using GNI per capita

The World Bank has used a specific measure of economic development - gross national income (GNI) per capita - for the purpose of ranking and classifying countries for over 50 years. The first compendium of these statistics was called the World Bank Atlas, published in 1966 - it had just two estimates for each country: its population, and its per capita gross national product in US dollars, both for 1964. Then, the highest reported average income per capita was Kuwait, with $3,290. In second place was the United States, with $3,020, third was Sweden, a fair way behind, with $2,040. The bottom three were Ethiopia, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), and Malawi, with GNP per capita estimates of $50, $45 and $40 respectively (GNI used to be called GNP). It probably comes as no surprise that today Norway is top. Malawi is still bottom.

Dataviz remake: the fall in extreme poverty, the best news in the world

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Also available in: 中文



The World Bank’s President called it “
best news in the world” when the 2015 forecast of  extreme poverty rates was released in October, showing that less than 10% of the world’s population now live in extreme poverty. It is great news indeed and it was widely reported in the press.

Some colleagues circulated the New Yorker magazine’s “Four Charts That Defined the World in 2015” from last week - their inclusion of the fall in global extreme poverty is very welcome.

However, some of us found the chart they used to be a little tricky to interpret, and because we see the issues below quite regularly, we thought doing a quick remake and explanation would be worthwhile. 

2015_Charts_Poverty-690.jpg

Via The New Yorker

  What’s wrong with this picture? A few things stand out:

New 2015 edition of World Development Indicators shows 25 years of progress, but much left to do

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Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Français | Español

We’re pleased to announce that the 2015 edition of World Development Indicators (WDI)  has been released.  WDI is the most widely used dataset in our Open Data Catalog and it  provides high-quality cross-country comparable statistics about development and people’s lives around the globe. As usual you can download or query the database, read the publication and  access the online tables.

While the seasoned WDI user will know that the database is updated quarterly and historical versions are also available, for those new to the WDI, the annual release of a new edition is an opportunity to review the trends we’re seeing in global development and to take stock of what’s been achieved.

2015: the year of (data) time travel

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Delorean_DMC-12_Time_Machine_in_San_Francisco.JPG

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Time travel is, of course, the stuff of science fiction. H. G. Wells wrote about it in 1895, and it’s been fertile territory for film and television makers ever since. But the ability to store and retrieve digital records has at least made it possible to travel back in time with data...

For users of statistics, it turns out this can be a pretty handy thing to do: estimates and measures of many indicators get revised as methods improve, and as geographies and economies shift over time. A statistical data Time Machine can help answer questions like how much estimates been revised - and even whether different decisions might have been taken with the benefit of hindsight.

Now, 2015 is the year of the Data Revolution. So, let’s make a contribution by making a Time Machine using World Bank open data. We're pleased to announce that the World Development Indicators Database Archives are now available in the DataBank Application, read more below on how we got here!

LICs, LMICs, UMICs, and HICs: classifying economies for analytical purposes

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Also available in: 中文

Two previous posts outlined plans to review the World Bank's analytical income classification, here and here. Since we are updating this classification with new data soon (July 1, 2014), we wanted to let users know where this work stands.

Every year, the analytical classification groups all economies into four categories: low income countries (LICs); lower middle income countries (LMICs); upper middle income countries (UMICs); and high income countries (or HICs). This year we will update the classification using 2013 data, but we will not make any change to the methodology.

How we do Open Data: #1 - choosing development indicators

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Also available in: 中文

A recent question from Lorenz Noe caught our eye - how do we choose which indicators to publish in World Development Indicators (WDI), a major part of our Open Data Initiative? It’s a good question, so I thought I’d write a post about that - and we’ll also post something similar in the data help desk.

1. There’s no perfect indicator

There are sometimes gaps in the data


Like many things in life, selecting indicators for the WDI is not an exact science. The intention is to provide good coverage of key development issues, but many of the countries that we work with do not have the quantity - or quality - of data that exists in countries like the United States, for example.

Data, Differences, and Digging Deeper

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Explaining the differences in today’s global society is a topic that clearly captures the interest of many: as I write this blog, the hardback version of Thomas Piketty’s new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is second on Amazon’s best-seller list. That’s not bad for a pretty hefty book about economics and the distribution of wealth!

Another publication – the 2014 edition of World Development Indicators (WDI) 2014 – was also released in the last few weeks: it’s not likely to reach the bestseller list on Amazon, but it does also reveal some startling differences in the lives of people around the world, and the challenges they face. Here’s one statistic: a newborn child born in Sierra Leone will be 90 times more likely to die before her fifth birthday than a newborn child born in Luxembourg. And the estimated probabilities of dying before five? In Sierra Leone, in 2012, it was 18%, or just under 1 in 5 – the highest in the world. In Luxembourg, that probability was just 0.2%, or about 1 in 500 – the lowest in the world. Since it really is quite shocking, maybe I should repeat it: almost 1 in 5 children born in Sierra Leone will die before they reach the age of five.

International Debt Statistics: three changes for 2014

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The World Bank has been collecting statistics on the debt of its borrowing countries since 1951, through the Debtor Reporting System. Published for many years as World Debt Tables (see, for example, the 1982 edition here) and then as Global Development Finance (initially as Volume 2), the 2013 dataset - which contains data for 2011 - was published in a renamed publication as International Debt Statistics, with expanded coverage of Quarterly External Debt Statistics and Public Sector Debt.

Last year we reviewed our dissemination strategy for World Development Indicators (WDI), and made some improvements to improve the quality and accessibility of the statistical indicators, tables and analyses. This year we’ve looked at debt statistics, and are planning some changes here as well; while the 2014 dataset - which contains data for 2012 - has been released in mid-December as usual, we’ll be releasing the redesigned data products in mid-February.

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