Friday, September 25, 2009

UN vs. World Bank Data

I've finally put together the main database for my Environmental Economics Research Hub project on energy efficiency and carbon emissions. I have full data on energy use (by fuel), structure of the economy, GDP, investment, schooling, climate, emissions etc. for 99 countries for the period 1971 to 2007. For my 2002 paper on explaining sulfur emissions I only managed to put together data for 64 countries (for only 18 years), so I'm pretty happy with that.

Initially, I was going to use the World Bank Development Indicators for the economic structure data. However, this data has lots of missing years for many countries. I then discovered that the UN has freely downloadable data for 1970-2007 for most member countries. This data is split into seven industrial sectors vs. only four for the World Bank data. In the end, I am not using any data from the WDI in the first stage of this project.


  1. I was keen to maximize sample size for a resource curse paper I did a while ago and made the same choice - I cross checked a zillion things with PWT and WB stuff (one of my advisers was skeptical), and the UN numbers follow the same pattern for everything of interest. Don't know why more folks don't rely on them.

  2. I'd used some of the UN data in previous research in the days when we were typing in numbers from the hardcopy volumes. Also UNIDO once sent me some data I requested, and our library has their database on a CD-ROM. But this source is really convenient for basic national accounting data.