Published on Data Blog

A Little Book with a lot of data on Financial Development

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  • The Little Data Book on Financial Development 2013 is a pocket edition of the Global Financial Development Database, accompanying the Global Financial Development Report 2013.
  • The Global Financial Development Database is an improved and more complete database on financial sector development that takes into account the multidimensional nature of financial systems
  • The book contains data for 38 selected indicators of financial sector development for more than 200 economies.

ImageWhich country has the highest number of bank accounts per capita? Which region has the highest percentage of small firms with loans from financial institutions? Where in the world does one find the highest interest rate spreads? Which country’s banking sector has the lowest levels of non-performing loans? Have financial institutions become more or less stable in recent years? Which country has the highest stock market turnover ratio? And has bank concentration increased or decreased in recent years?

Answers to these and many other interesting questions can be found in the inaugural Little Data Book on Financial Development. The book provides a quick reference for policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, academics and other researchers and members of the development community.

“Considerable effort was involved in collecting, cleaning and checking this unique dataset. It builds on a decade of data compilation efforts,”  says Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, the World Bank’s director of development policy and chief economist for financial and private sector development.

The Little Data Book is a pocket edition of The Global Financial Development Database (available at and which is an extensive dataset of financial system characteristics for more than 200 economies. The database includes measures of (a) size of financial institutions and markets (financial depth), (b) degree to which individuals can and do use financial services (access), (c) efficiency of financial intermediaries and markets in intermediating resources and facilitating financial transactions (efficiency), and (d) stability of financial institutions and markets (stability). The Little Data Book shows a subset of indicators for the four categories of financial system characteristics explored in the main database.

“The Little Data Book is a part of a broader initiative to put together the information and knowledge we have on financial development, and also to identify areas where more is needed. The book is issued at the same time as the 2013 Global Financial Development Report, which uses data from the underlying Global Financial Development Database” says Martin Cihak, lead author of the study and lead economist in the World Bank’s Financial and Private Sector Development Network. 

The data illustrate, among other things, that deep financial systems do not necessarily provide high degrees of financial access; that highly efficient financial systems are not necessarily more stable than the less efficient ones, and so on. The data also demonstrate the effects of the global financial crisis.

“The book and the Global Financial Development Dataset are closely integrated with our internal statistical tools for financial systems and our efforts to benchmark financial development. These are used extensively in World Bank’s operational work” adds Erik Feyen, Senior Financial Sector Specialist in the World Bank’s Financial and Private Sector Development Network.

It is expected that the Global Financial Development Database will be updated on an ongoing basis as financial systems evolve and as more data are compiled, especially on non-bank financial institutions and financial markets, where coverage is still lower than in the banking sector. These updates and extensions will be reflected in future editions of the Little Data Book on Financial Development.


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