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International Debt Statistics: three changes for 2014

Neil Fantom's picture
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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.

1. New on-line tables. The country-level data tables previously published in the book will now be available on-line, compiled directly from the latest version of the database. These will display in web browsers, and be available as PDF-format downloads. This application mirrors the tables for the WDI, and we think brings many advantages: tables will reflect the latest revisions to the estimates, they will be available to a far greater audience, notes and footnotes will be attached to individual values, and the tables will be free for everyone.

2. Improvements to the print edition. While the basic structure of International Debt Statistics will remain, we are adding additional regional analysis, and have reformatted the country tables to make them more compact. As for the 2014 edition, we’re including additional analyses of the Quarterly External Debt Statistics database (QEDS) and Quarterly Public Sector database (QPSD), and regional analysis of debt statistics.

3. Better website navigation. The interface to debt statistics is being redesigned to make it much easier to navigate to data of interest. We expect to launch in mid-February with the URL datatopics.worldbank.org/debt, but for now here’s a screenshot showing what you can expect:

We hope these improvements will make debt statistics easier to find, understand and use. And, as always, we’d appreciate any comments you have, good or bad, and any suggestions on how we could further improve these tools.

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