It’s raining data. Financial inclusion data, that is. The Development Research Group has published the complete micro dataset  of the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) dataset on the Open Data Microdata Library . We’re talking over 150,000 individual-level observations, representing adults in 148 economies and 97 percent of the world’s adult population. Users can download the complete worldwide dataset, or datasets by country.
While such a deluge of data may make some people cringe, we know that readers of this blog will be as excited about the data as we are. Still, you may ask, what is the Global Findex  and why is it interesting? The Global Findex dataset is the first comparable, cross-country data that studies how adults worldwide manage their daily finances and plan for the future. The dataset includes indicators on accounts, payments, savings, credit, and risk-management – over 40 variables in all. And, for the first time, we’re releasing data on the self-reported barriers to account ownership (for example, 43 percent of unbanked adults in Liberia cite lack of documentation as a reason for not owning an account). The micro dataset also contains covariates on the gender, age, education level, and income of the respondents. Access to the raw data (country-level data was released  in April) gives researchers, policy makers, and connoisseurs of financial inclusion the freedom to perform their own research, or just find a specific statistic such as “what percentage of those in the poorest within-country income quintile in Latin America and the Caribbean cite cost as a barrier to having an account?”(45%)
Most importantly, we hope that the ability to study how different financial behaviors fit together expands our understanding of adults save, borrow, and make payments. For example, our new paper on The foundations of financial inclusion: understanding ownership and use of formal accounts  with Franklin Allen and Sole Martinez-Peria uses the Global Findex microdata and finds that policy makers can boost the number of people using formal financial services with policies that help reduce the cost, documentation requirement and travel distance associated with accessing a bank account.
The Global Findex data were collected by Gallup, Inc. using the Gallup World Poll Survey. The Research Group is building the database with a 10-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For more information see:
Asli Demirguc-Kunt and Leora Klapper, 2012, "Measuring Financial Inclusion: The Global Findex", World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6025. 
Allen, Franklin, Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Leora Klapper, and Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 2012, "The Foundations of Financial Inclusion: Understanding Ownership and Use of Formal Accounts", World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6290.