World Bank Open Data now in Chinese–a free, comprehensive and friendly new data source


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As an economist monitoring the macroeconomic developments of the Chinese economy, dealing with data is one of my main jobs. I am so happy that now I have a new tool to handle data and make economic analysis. It is the World Bank Open Data platform launched recently. Based on my user experience till now, I found two features of it are specially worth highlighting:

1. Comprehensive indicators are available on the Open Data platform. As an international research organization, the World Bank has collected more than 2,000 development indicators of 209 countries. Besides economic indicators, there are lots of other development indicators including health, education, environment, rural and urban development, social security, R&D, etc. These comprehensive and consistent data are very useful for researchers to make international comparisons.

2. The user interface is very friendly. We can search and download data by country, region, or by topics, even by indicators. Additionally, the database also provides some widgets to display tables, maps or charts. Specially, these widgets are "alive"—when new data is available, the widget will automatically display it. One of my favorites is the eATLAS of Global Development which allows users to easily and quickly transform data into customized visual color maps. Both the maps and the underlying data can be exported for later use.

For example, the following chart is the map I used to analyze the economic structure in different countries. It is very clear from the map that industry development carries more weight in the GDP of China than in the EU and the U.S.

I am also surprised that the database even provides Chinese, French, Spanish and Arabic versions.

Of course, the greatest thing is that the whole database is totally free for all users, even for global software developers. I noticed that the application for iPhone to use World Bank data has already been released. With more apps available in future, I think the initiative of World Bank Open Data—"the data are being used to help reduce poverty"—will be achieved more efficiently.


Xiaoli Wan

Macroeconomics - China

Join the Conversation

September 07, 2011

Redefining , rethinking, "how" to avoid becoming caught in a middle income trap starts in common logistics like this one , in involving scholars and young people with tech tools they can get along with . They will sweep away the bias in data available and the sustainable model for China comes without tough shocks but as a natural and necessary development in the way ahead. The key changes already known as the "what" becoming a mostly accepted model just need the schedule and the opening of platforms that help a sound fiscal system to come to place besides the social network to release the fear that such a big and quick change brings . People feeling confortable and perceiving a shared public and private resposabilities to deliver social services is the end of a journey and the begining of a new one.
Boosting a developed middle class means better access to credit and consuption but also means to make room to accomodate in the social lift the ones who made this possible . The quality of schools, the health care and old people assistance, just as the bringing of tech to agriculture and cattle breeding , the local financing with new good standards of practices all have a pushing synergic effect to achieve strong results.
The as soft as possible bracing to more balanced conditions is made of rethinkng, self evaluating and strenghtening identities , not to fear or being feared and opened platforms to bring the outside world in numbers do help a lot if in local language of course . This one made available here sure is a wonderful quest for results !