This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

World Bank Opens its Data Vault

If you are new to research that involves comparisons between countries, you may not appreciate how important it is that over the past year or so, the World Bank has made its huge international database increasingly available to the public over the internet. 
Created in 1944 and, by custom, headed by an American, the World Bank initially helped finance the reconstruction of war-torn Europe. Since then, it has extended many trillions in loans for a wide variety of projects, be they institutions like schools and hospitals, infrastructure like roads or, controversially, environmentally unfriendly projects like coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams. Along the way the World Bank, like the I.M.F., has tinkered with entire economies, sometimes with disastrous results.
In the process of handing out gobs of money, the World Bank has collected gobs of data and until very recently parsed it out sparingly and usually only for a fee. That approach began to change when Robert Zoellick became head of the Bank four years ago.
“As opposed to some imperious bureaucracy in Washington, we’re making things open and accessible to people,” he says. “That makes for better performance, it makes for a more open system, it makes for people having a different attitude about the World Bank.”
This has been a very welcome change and I encourage you to explore the data available online at www.worldbank.org.

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