Created along with the IMF in 1944 to rebuild Europe, the main focus of the World Bank is to alleviate poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world. It is a development bank which provides loans, policy advice and technical assistance to countries and it collects data on all aspects of human development worldwide.
The World Bank's primary database, the World Development Indicators (WDI) is one of the most widely used and frequently cited of the international databanks. The database contains statistical data for over 630 development indicators. The extensive collection of development data includes social, economic, financial, natural resources and environmental indicators covering the period 1960 - onwards for over 200 countries and 18 country groups.
The main topics in the WDI are as follows:
- Population and demographics
- Labor and employment
- Poverty and income distribution
- Land use and agricultural production
- Energy production and use
- National accounts (local currency)
- National accounts (US$)
- Derived national accounts
- Purchasing power parity
- Government finance
- Balance of payments
- External debt
- States & Markets
- Investment and risk
- Financial depth
- Tax and trade policies
- Prices and exchange rates
- Military expenditures and arms trade
- Transport, power, and communications
- Information and technology
- Global Links
- Investment and trade
- Financial flows
- Development assistance and aid
- Foreign labour and population in OECD countries
- Travel and tourism
The database is designed to be used for making cross-national comparisons in that the same indicators tend to be reported in the same units for every country. Series that are reported in local currencies almost invariably have a equivalent series in a more comparable unit, such as $US or % of GDP. All the data in the WDI are annual data. The database is updated once a year.
This example based on the World Bank World Development Indicators shows the how the percentage of population that live in a cities has changed over time for selected Asian countries
The Global Development Finance database is also produced annually by the World Bank. This database contains more than 200 debt and financial flows indicators for over 130 countries that report public and publicly-guaranteed debt to the World Bank Debtor Reporting System. Topics covered include external debt stocks and flows, major economic aggregates, and key debt ratios as well as average terms of new commitments, currency composition of long-term debt and debt restructuring. The database runs from 1970 onwards and also contains future projections of countries' debt repayments for the next ten years.
This example from the World Bank Global development Finance shows workers remittances