World Bank’s open data policy and -wbopendata-

Last year, a friend from the World Bank (Manila) sent an email about World Bank’s open access policy that allows free download access to thousands of indicators from the World Bank data catalog. As I always had access to World Bank data sets via our institution’s subscription, I took this information for granted. This is not to say that I ignore the implications of this initiative. The World Bank model puts pressure on governments and other development agencies to follow. It is odd that there are still countries in the world today where economic data, such as GDP or inflation data, are not made public.

It is only a matter of time that applications, not only to automate data download, but also to present these wealth of information in ingenious ways will be made available. ESRI, for example, published a free web application that maps any one of more than a thousand economic and financial indicators for any region of the world. In the screen shot below, the size of the bubbles represents workers’ remittances inflows to countries in Asia.

To bring out the best of ideas, the World Bank initiated the “Apps for Development” competition, a challenge to software developers and development practitioners to create innovative apps using World Bank data (vote for your favorite apps here).

For Stata users, -wbopendata- (J.P. Azevedo 2011) is the module to access data from World Bank data catalog. -wbopendata- is easy to use but note that it requires an internet connection. First, install -wbopendata- via SSC:

ssc install wbopendata

-wbopendata- allows you to download (i) all indicators for a specific country for all years or (ii) a specific indicator for all countries and for all years or (iii) a set of indicators within a specified topic for all countries and for all years. -wbopendata- loads the data into the Stata memory. For example, to download all data available for the Philippines for all years, type:

wbopendata, country(phl) clear

This returns data for 972 indicators from 1960 to the latest year available. The default data display is in wide format. To display the data in a long format, use the ‘long’ option:

wbopendata, country(phl) long clear

To download GDP per capita (in constant PPP $) for all countries, type:

wbopendata, indicator(ny.gdp.pcap.pp.kd) clear

Lastly, to download all indicators under the topic “Poverty” for all countries, type:

wbopendata, topics(11) clear

The list of countries, topics, and indicators and their corresponding codes are documented in the help file (see -help wbopendata-). -wbopendata- also has other options not mentioned here.

2 Responses

  1. The World Bank’s Open Data initiative is intended to provide all users with FREE access to World Bank data.

    The Bank’s commitment to openness is also driven by a desire to foster public ownership, partnership and participation in development from a wide range of stakeholders. As a knowledge institution, the World Bank’s first step is …to share its knowledge freely and openly.

  2. Here’s the link to the WB website, so others — not just Stata users — can access it.

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