Development Economics

The Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC) increases understanding of development policies and programs by providing intellectual leadership and analytical services to the Bank and the development community.

DEC is the premier research and data arm of the World Bank. 

Under the leadership of the Vice President and World Bank Group Chief Economist Carmen M. Reinhart, DEC sets the Bank's research agenda and advises Bank Management on a wide range of development policy issues. DEC also advises policy makers on development challenges and helps to promote development issues within the broad development community.

DEC's main business lines are:

  • Development Data (international statistics, statistical capacity building and results monitoring)
  • Development Research (research and knowledge creation)
  • Global Indicators (cross-country comparable measures on a range of policy issues)
  • Impact Evaluation (generates high-quality and operationally relevant data and research to transform development policy, help reduce extreme poverty, and secure shared prosperity)
Vice President and World Bank Group Chief Economist

Carmen Reinhart

Senior Vice President and World Bank Group Chief Economist
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International Debt Statistics 2022

The International Debt Statistics (IDS) 2022 report features external debt statistics and analysis for the 123 low- and middle-income countries that report to the World Bank Debtor Reporting System (DRS). It is part of a series that supports the World Bank’s broader agenda on debt transparency. Every year the IDS publication continues to improve data quality and coverage to promote the comprehensive disclosure of public and publicly guaranteed debt of low- and middle-income countries.

COVID-19 leaves a legacy of rising poverty and widening inequality

The global economy is beginning to bounce back from the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, with growth of 5.6 percent expected for 2021. But this recovery is not being experienced equally. Poorer countries are contending with a deeper, longer-lasting crisis that has increased global poverty and is reversing recent trends of shrinking ineq

The aftermath of debt surges: No easy solution

The pandemic-induced recession of 2020 led to the largest single-year surge in global debt since at least 1970. In addition, this came on the heels of a decade-long global debt wave that was the largest, fastest, and most broad-based in the past five decades. Government, private, domestic, and external debt are all at multi-decade highs across advanced economies and EMDEs. Furthermore, while interest payments in advanced economies have been trending lower in recent years while these have been steadily climbing for EMDEs. So, how can EMDE policy makers address this record-high debt? History offers some lessons, but no easy solutions.

Research Collection
Research for a Resilient Recovery

COVID-19 has devastated lives and livelihoods. According to Ferreira et al. (2021), by December 2020 almost 20 million life-years were lost to COVID-19 and more than 120 million additional years were spent in poverty. To provide insight into the costs, consequences, and policy responses to the crisis, this page highlights research on COVID-19 produced by the World Bank's Development Research Group.

Policy Research Working Paper series publication roundup for the Summer of 2021

After a summer hiatus, the roundup blog of the Policy Research Working paper series is back. This blog is a bimonthly feature highlighting recent working papers from around the World Bank Group that were published in the World Bank’s Policy Research Working Paper Series. This entry introduces seven papers published during the summer of 2021 (July-Mid September) on various topics, including gender, migration, COVID-19 and others. Here are the highlights of select findings.

Annual Meetings Event
Growth in a Time of Crisis: What's Ahead for Developing Economies

Global growth is set to reach 5.6 percent in 2021, the strongest post-recession pace in 80 years, yet the recovery is expected to be highly unequal within and across countries. Additionally, the pandemic has amplified existing social and economic gaps. Can inclusive growth be sustained during and after this crisis? Join us in a conversation with our distinguished panel as we explore actionable policy insights to support inclusive growth in developing economies.


Data Spotlight

Journals & Digests
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    World Bank Research Observer

    The World Bank Research Observer seeks to inform nonspecialist readers about research being undertaken within the Bank and outside the Bank in areas of economics relevant for development policy.
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    World Bank Economic Review

    The World Bank Economic Review encourages and supports innovative theoretical and empirical research in the field of development economics.
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    World Bank Research Digest

    The World Bank Research Digest is a quarterly publication that communicates the findings of research relevant for development policy in an accessible and timely way.

  • Mobile Data Apps

    For iOS and Android
  • ADePT

    Software platform for automated economic analysis
  • iSimulate

    Platform for performing macroeconomic simulations
  • PovCalNet

    Poverty Analysis Tool assess global poverty incidence figures
  • Informality Scenario Analysis

    Project the size of formal and informal labor in almost 100 countries yearly until 2030
  • CAPI

    Software for conducting complex surveys with dynamic structures using tablet devices



Regional Knowledge Hubs
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    The East Asia & Pacific Chief Economist Research Center is a regional center of excellence for research on key areas of economic development, spanning economic growth and risk management to program evaluation and the implementation of key public services.
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    The Research and Development Center in Chile conducts research on financial sector development and generates knowledge to inform policymakers, practitioners, and the academic community.


The Development Data Group puts data to work for development. We deliver for World Bank Gr​oup clients and our staff by improving​ the quality, accessibility and use of development data through innovation, solid technical expertise and​ effective partnerships​​.

What We Do
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    International Debt Statistics

    Now in its forty-seventh year, International Debt Statistics supports policymakers and analysts by monitoring aggregate and country-specific trends in external debt in low- and middle-income countries. It provides a comprehensive picture of external borrowing and sources of lending by type of borrower and creditor with information on data availability and comparability.
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    Global Data Facility

    The Global Data Facility (GDF) is the new, World Bank-hosted fund supporting data and statistics priorities at the global, regional, national, and community levels. The GDF is designed to enable improvements and strengthened capacity for the collection, management, governance, analysis, sharing, use and reuse of data for transformational social and economic development
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    Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals

    The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020 is a web publication that guides readers through the 17 SDGs using interactive storytelling and innovative data visualizations. It showcases in-depth narratives about selected targets, methodologies, and trends and it highlights the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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    World Development Indicators

    The World Development Indicators is a compilation of relevant, high-quality, and internationally comparable statistics about global development and the fight against poverty. The database contains 1,600 time series indicators for 217 economies and more than 40 country groups, with data for many indicators going back more than 50 years.
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    International Comparison Program (ICP)

    The ICP is a worldwide statistical initiative led by the World Bank under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission, with the main objective of providing comparable price and volume measures of gross domestic product (GDP) and its expenditure aggregates among countries within and across regions.
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    Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS)

    The Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) is a household survey program housed within the Survey Unit of the World Bank's Development Data Group that provides technical assistance to national statistical offices (NSOs) in the design and implementation of multi-topic household surveys.
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    Survey Solutions

    Survey Solutions is free software developed in the Data group of The World Bank and is a globally trusted platform for data collection used by data collecting agencies in 145 countries
  • Big Data

    The Big Data team provides a resource for World Bank staff to incorporate big data techniques such as AI and machine learning into their operational work.
  • Databank/Data Catalog

    The DataBank/Data Catalog makes World Bank's development data easy to find, download, use, analyze, visualize and share.
  • Development Data Council

    The Development Data Council provides governance and coordination for the World Bank’s vision, priorities and activities related to development data.
  • Economic Statistics

    The Economic Statistics team provides capacity building to client countries on their Systems of National Accounts
  • Geospatial Data

    The Geospatial Data team supports the World Bank in integrating geospatial data into their operations for development impact.
  • Microdata Library

    The Microdata Library shares data collected through sample surveys of households, business establishments or other facilities.
  • PovcalNet

    PovcalNet is the source of, and allows users to replicate, the Bank's official global, regional and internationally comparable economy level poverty estimates.
  • Statistical Capacity Building

    The Statistical Capacity Building team develops the Statistical Capacity Indicator (SCI), which ranks the relative strength of each country’s respective statistical abilities.

Haishan Fu

Director, Development Data Group



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Located within the Development Economics Vice Presidency, the Development Research Group is the World Bank's principal research department. With its cross-cutting expertise on a broad range of topics and countries, the department is one of the most influential centers of development research in the world.

Our experts are often cited by the media, the academic community, and other stake holders interested in international development. Our researchers also provide support to the World Bank's Regions and Global Practices to help ensure that the institution's policy advice is firmly grounded in current knowledge. 

The department produces the majority of the World Bank’s research and enjoys a high international profile. The work of our researchers appears in academic journals, the Policy Research Working Papers, books, blogs, and special publications such as the Policy Research Reports.

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    Policy Research Reports

    The Policy Research Report series synthesizes the findings of World Bank research on development policy for a broad audience. The reports contribute to the debate on appropriate public policies for developing economies.
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    Global Financial Development Reports

    The Global Financial Development Report series provide a unique contribution to financial sector policy debates, building on novel data, surveys, research, and wide-ranging country experience, with an emphasis on emerging markets and developing economies.
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    Books by World Bank researchers cover the full breadth of international development policy issues.
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    Working Papers

    The Policy Research Working Paper series disseminates findings of work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues.

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    Global Findex

    The Global Findex database, the world’s most comprehensive database on financial inclusion, provides in-depth data on how individuals save, borrow, make payments, and manage risks.
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    PovcalNet is an interactive computational tool that allows users to replicate the calculations made by the World Bank's researchers in estimating the extent of absolute poverty in the world.
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    Worldwide Governance Indicators

    The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for over 200 countries and territories over the period 1996–2016 for six dimensions of governance.


Deon Filmer

Director, Development Research Group
Meet the management team »


S Anukriti


Forhad Shilpi

Senior Economist
More researchers »


Located within the Development Economics Vice Presidency, the Global Indicators Group produces primary data and analysis on private sector development, with emphasis on regulations, institutions, and policies that promote job creation, economic productivity, and gender equality. The data products emphasize reliability, relevance, and comparability, within and across economies. The goal of the data, reports, and papers produced by the Global Indicators Group is to encourage and guide social and economic reforms that promote an efficient and fair business environment. The work also feeds into research produced by academia, international organizations, and think tanks, as well as policy advocacy conducted by civil society and non-governmental organizations.

The Global Indicators Group produces the reports and databases of Doing BusinessSubnational Doing BusinessEmploying Workers, Enterprise Surveys, Entrepreneurship Database and Women Business and the Law

Who We Are
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    Women, Business and the Law

    The Women, Business and the Law Index, composed by eight indicators structured around women’s interactions with the law as they begin, progress through and end their careers, aligns different areas of the law with the economic decisions women make at various stages of their lives. The indicators are: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets, and Pension.
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    Doing Business

    Doing Business provides quantified, comparable measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies. Published annually since 2003, it measures the efficiency and strength of laws, regulations and institutions relevant to domestic small and medium-size companies throughout their life cycle.
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    Enterprise Surveys

    Enterprise Surveys provide the world's most comprehensive comparable firm-level data in emerging markets and developing economies. Data are available on 130,000+ firms in 139 countries. Data cover a broad range of business environment topics including access to finance, corruption, infrastructure, crime, competition, and performance measures.
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    Subnational Doing Business

    Subnational and Regional Doing Business reports capture differences in business regulations and their enforcement across locations in a single country or region. They provide data on the ease of doing business, rank each location, and recommend reforms to improve performance in each of the indicator areas.
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    Growth Analytics

    The Growth Analytics team focuses on research and analysis on public procurement. Through the Global Delivery Initiative, the team also analyzes implementation experiences to identify operational knowledge, lessons, and insights.


Norman Loayza

Director, Global Indicators Group


Jorge Rodríguez Meza

Program Manager, Enterprise Analysis Unit, Global Indicators Group

Doing Business

Valeria Perotti

Program Manager, Doing Business Unit, Global Indicators Group

SubNational Doing Business

Pilar Salgado-Otónel

Program Manager, Subnational Doing Business Unit, Global Indicators Group

Women, Business and the Law

Tea Trumbic

Program Manager, Women, Business and the Law, Global Indicators Group

Policy Analysis Group

Erica Bosio

Program Manager, Growth Analytics Unit, Global Indicators Group

The World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) group generates high-quality and operationally relevant data and research to transform development policy, help reduce extreme poverty, and secure shared prosperity. It develops customized data and evidence ecosystems to produce actionable information and recommend specific policy pathways to maximize impact.

The work is based on a co-production model aimed at transferring capacity and know-how to partners to make mid-course corrections and scale up successful policy instruments to achieve policy outcomes.

These corrections increase the rate of return of underlying investments by large margins, far exceeding the costs of the research. The group conducts research in 60 countries with 200 agencies leveraging a $180M research budget against $18B in development finance. It also provides advisory services to 30 multilateral and bilateral development agencies in the world.

Finally, DIME invests in public goods to improve the quality and reproducibility of development research around the world. From DIME Wiki to toolkitstraining and summer schools, DIME is servicing the global community of researchers and, in so doing, improving the quality of global policy advice.

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    Through the use of rigorous evaluations, AADAPT aims to identify and correct the main constraints to adoption in agriculture.
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    Energy and Environment

    Are we doing enough on climate? No. From satellite data to farmer incentives, speeding up learning on what’s possible.
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    Entertainment Education

    What public campaigns cannot do, professional entertainers can. The amazing power of the narrative is changing both norms and behaviors.
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    Finance and Private Sector Development

    DIME’s work on financial and private sector development aims to address two overarching development challenges.



Arianna Legovini

Head of Development Impact Evaluation (DIME)


Vincenzo Di Maro

Senior Economist, Governance and Institution Building Research Program Manager, Development Impact Evaluation (DIME)

Florence Kondylis

Senior Economist, Economic Transformation & Growth Research Program Manager, Development Impact Evaluation (DIME)

Aidan Coville

Senior Economist, Infrastructure and Climate Change Research Program Manager, Development Impact Evaluation (DIME)
More researchers »