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The story behind the numbers: what makes World Bank databases the standard for development data Valentina Kalk November 27, 2006. Development Statistics. The World Bank is a major user and producer of development statistics. As part of its mandate, the Bank:

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The story behind the numbers: what makes World Bank databases the standard for development dataValentina KalkNovember 27, 2006
development statistics
Development Statistics

The World Bank is a major user and producer of development statistics.

As part of its mandate, the Bank:

  • Collects, compiles and disseminates data for operational and research work
  • Reviews data and statistical methods to ensure their quality and integrity
  • Works with partners to improve the statistical capacity of developing countries
development statistics1
Development Statistics


  • Enable sound policy decisions
  • Guide investment for growth
  • Help to ensure markets operate efficiently
  • Help answer important development-related questions
  • Help define achievable goals and effective, outcome-based strategies
  • Highlight the need to modify programs or re-direct resources
  • Monitor development progress
the world bank development data group
The World Bank Development Data Group
  • Invests in statistical activities
  • Creates and implements standards and frameworks for data
  • Compiles datasets
  • Raises awareness of the value of statistics in the development community (advocacy)
the world bank development data group1
The World Bank Development Data Group

Three groups

  • Data for Global Monitoring
    • Assembles the World Bank’s development database
    • Produces the World Development Indicators
    • Maintains specialized sectoral databases
  • Statistical Development and Partnership
    • Manages the Debtor Reporting System
    • Publishes external debt data (Global Development Finance)
    • Collects macroeconomic data from World Bank staff, international organizations, and country sources
    • Review data for consistency
    • Works with countries to improve their statistical capacity
    • Raises awareness of the value of statistics in the development community (advocacy)
  • Systems Upgrade Team
    • Develops and maintains systems needed to support the other groups and make access easy to others
measuring development progress
Measuring Development Progress

Macroeconomic and financial data

  • Collected from national statistical organizations and central banks
  • Where official data are not available, Bank or IMF estimates are used
  • Data are used to determine eligibility and lending terms for Bank loans
    • GNI per capita: data is collected from country units and reviewed for cross-country comparability. Resulting figures are distributed to regional VPs for review and to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors for approval
measuring development progress1
Measuring Development Progress

External Debt Data

  • Debtor Reporting System (DRS)
    • Sole repository for external debt statistics of the 136 borrowing or guaranteeing member countries
    • Need to assess a borrowing country’s foreign debt, debt servicing capacity, creditworthiness, and debt management; regional and global indebtedness.
    • GDF, Little Book on External Debt
  • Joint External Debt Hub (JEDH)
    • A product of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Finance Statistics
    • External debt data and selected foreign assets from international and national sources of developed, developing and transition countries
measuring development progress2
Measuring Development Progress

Trade and Investment Climate Data

  • World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS)
    • A product of the Bank and UNCTAD
    • Allows retrieval of bilateral trade data based on various commodity classifications
    • Based on the UN Statistics Division’s commodity trade databases
    • Provides access to tariff rates and non-tariff barriers from UNCTAD and tariff schedules from the WTO
  • Investment Climate Survey
    • Provides analysis and advice to countries considering reforms
    • Uses a standardizes questionnaire to collect data from private firms
    • Survey quantifies obstacles and their impact on firms’ productivity, employment, and investment
  • Doing Business Database
    • Provides indicators of the cost of doing business by identifying regulations that enhance or constrain business investment, productivity and growth
measuring development progress3
Measuring Development Progress

Infrastructure Data

  • Urban
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Transport

Poverty Data

  • PovcalNet

Environment Data

  • Little Green Data Book

Human Development

  • EdStats (Education)
  • HNPStats (Health, nutrition and population)
  • GenderStats
data monitoring
Data Monitoring

Millennium Development Goals

  • Eight specific and measurable goals
  • Agreed by world leaders in 2000
  • To be achieved by 2015
  • Millennium Declaration in 2005
  • The Bank works closely with the UN and other international agencies to maintain data and metadata sets covering all MDG indicators (18 quantifiable targets, 48 indicators)
data monitoring1
Data Monitoring

Millennium Development Goals

  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS and malaria
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
partnering with the international statistical system
Partnering with the international statistical system

The Bank works with the international statistical community by:

  • Participating in the UN Statistical Commission and other statistical forums to develop standards of good practice, frameworks and guidance
  • Building consensus and defining internationally agreed indicators (e.g. the MDGs)
  • Establishing data exchange processes and methods
  • Assemblying, analyzing and disseminating data un use-friendly publications
  • Working to help countries improve statistical capacity
  • Supporting programs to collect transnational data
partnering with the international statistical system1
Partnering with the international statistical system
  • Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics
  • International Comparison Program
  • Paris 21
  • Reference Regional Strategic Framework – Africa
  • Inter-Agency Task Force on Finance Statistics
wdi online
WDI Online
  • Premier source for social and economic data
  • Database on social, economic, financial, natural resources, and environmental indicators. Time series data from 1960
  • 695 indicators, over 200 countries, and 18 regional and income groups
  • Data updated annually in April
wdi online1
External Debt

Tax and Trade Policies

Military Expenditures


Development Assistance and Aid

Information Technology

Education and Health

Travel and Tourism

WDI Online
  • Population and Demographics
  • Poverty and Income Distribution
  • Energy Production and Use
  • Urbanization
  • National Accounts
  • Environment
  • Purchasing Power Parity
  • Trade

Full list of indicators -

gdf online
GDF Online
  • Premier source for financial data
  • Unique database on external debt and financial flow data for 136 countries
  • Time series for 217 indicators from 1970
  • Indicators include
    • external debt stocks and flows, major economic aggregates, key debt ratios, average terms of new commitments, currency composition of long-term debt, debt restructurings, scheduled debt service projections
  • Data updated annually in January
gdf online1

Net Transfers on Debt

Debt Service

Net Flows

Total Debt Service

Debt Ratios

Average Terms on New Commitments

GDF Online
  • Total Debt Stocks
  • Total Debt Flows
  • Resource Flows
  • Long-term Debt
  • Principal Repayments
  • Interest Payments
  • Disbursements

Full list of indicators -

new features of wdi gdf online
New Features of WDI/GDF Online
  • Multi-language interface

English, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic

  • Different charting options

choose between 10 different chart types

  • New mapping feature

see data on the world map

  • Beta -
wdi gdf online
WDI/GDF Online

Multi-Lingual Interface

Step 1: select countries

new features of wdi gdf online1
New Features of WDI/GDF Online

Multi-Lingual Interface

Step 1: select countries

wdi gdf online1
WDI/GDF Online

Step 2: select indicators


Multiple Charting Options

Multiple Orientation and Scaling Options


Multiple Charting Options

Multiple Orientation and Scaling Options

a non statistical reference the world bank e library
A non-statistical reference: The World Bank e-Library
  • An electronic collection of World Bank publications
  • Launched in May 2003
  • Includes 4,500 + full-text titles
    • backlist + current and forthcoming titles
    • Over 2,000 formal titles and over 2,500 policy research working papers
  • Indexed and fully searchable content
  • Powered by Ingenta
world bank e library features
World Bank e-Library features
  • COUNTER-compliant usage statistics
  • TOC alerts
    • Subscribe at the e-Library home page and receive an e-mail every time a new title is uploaded
  • RSS Feeds
  • METADATA and MARC Records
  • Reference linking to external sources
  • Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)
world bank e library
World Bank e-Library

Today’s e-Library


Select the portal

Simple search

Advanced search

Browse all titles in alphabetical order

world bank e library1
World Bank e-Library

Tomorrow’s e-Library

world bank e library2
World Bank e-Library

Tomorrow’s e-Library

the new world bank e library
The New World Bank e-Library
  • E-Library team currently working with Ingenta on development of new platform, planned for beta launch at the end of 2006
  • Current stage: Development of alpha version
  • Goal: a more flexible platform with more content, enhanced search options, better metadata, and content displayed and usable by subscribers in more granular ways
the new world bank e library1
The New World Bank e-Library
  • More content:
    • Ability to host content with non-ISBN / ISSN identifiers
  • Enhanced search options:
    • Refine your search (search within search)
    • Save your search
    • Sort results by various parameters
    • Ability to e-mail results to a friend
the new world bank e library2
The New World Bank e-Library
  • Better metadata
    • Metadata available at the chapter level
    • Additional metadata fields: country, sub-categories…
  • Content format
    • E-books viewable in their entirety or by chapter
    • Customized book packages (ability for users to create their own e-books dynamically from selected World Bank chapters)
  • Better linking and referencing
    • Who are we citing? Who cites us?

Useful Contacts

  • For further details or questions, please e-mail