Open Data Available through World Bank

By Lillian Pierson

The World Bank makes data available to the public at the World Bank Open Data page. The World Bank is an international financial institution run by the United Nations. It provides loans to developing countries to pay for capital investment that hopefully will lead to poverty reduction and some surplus so that the recipient nations can repay the loan amounts over time.

Because World Bank officers need to make well-informed decisions about which countries would be more likely to repay their loans, they’ve gathered an enormous amount of data on member nations.

If you’re looking for data to buttress your argument in a really interesting data-journalism piece that’s supported by global statistics, the World Bank should be your go-to source. No matter the scope of your project, if you need data about what’s happening in developing nations, the World Bank is the place to go. You can use the website to download entire datasets or simply view the data visualizations online. You can also use the World Bank’s Open Data API to access what you need.

World Bank Open Data supplies data on the following indicators (and many, many more):

  • Agriculture & rural development: Here you’ll find data on major contract awards, contributions to financial intermediary funds, forest area, and rural population size data.

  • Economy & growth: For the Big Picture — data on gross domestic ­product (GDP), gross capital formation, and agricultural value-added data, for example — no source is more exhaustive than World Bank Open Data.

  • Environment: Data here can tell you all about methane emissions, nitrous oxide emissions, and water pollution.

  • Science and technology: Great for tracking patent applications and trademark applications data.

  • Financial sector: Research the health (or lack thereof) of a national economy by looking at a nation’s bank capital-to-assets ratio, foreign direct investment, market capitalization, and new or supplemental ­project data.

  • Poverty income: For a clearer sense of how a country’s poorer population is faring, analyze the data associated with gross national income (GNI) per capita, income shares, and the poverty gap.

World Bank Data also includes microdata — sample surveys of households and businesses in developing countries. You can use microdata to explore variations in your datasets.