World Development Indicators

In: Uncategorized

20 Apr 2010

The World Bank has published its World Development Indicators (WDI) 2010.  The database consists of over 900 indicators for all of the world’s countries covering education, health, poverty, the economy, trade and more.

Even more welcome is the news that the database will be made freely available to all. Hundreds of the indicators go back 50 years and data will be available in Arabic, French, English and Spanish.

The free publication of such a comprehensive data set should be welcomed. However, this is entirely different from endorsing target-based development initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The problem with the MDGs is that their supporters have lost sight of development as a process of economic transformation. They might want to eradicate the most extreme forms of poverty or, say, raise female literacy levels but that is not the same as transforming poor countries into rich ones.

Data is a valuable tool for studying economies but meeting individual targets is not the same as development in the proper sense.