The World Bank’s World Development Indicators is a great source for finding indicators and variables related to world development. The neat thing about this resource is that you can build your own database by picking-and-choosing your own countries, variables, and time frame for analysis.

When  you open WDI’s website (tip: there is a bookmarked button in each of the browsers of our lab computers), you will be prompted to choose which countries you want to analyze (if you want to analyze all of them, click on ‘Select All’). After you click ‘Next’, choose which variables you want for your study. After that, choose the year.

You will then come to a screen that looks like this:

You'll come to a screen that looks like this. Minus the doodles.

Here you have the freedom to arrange how your data will be exported. (WDI exports to Excel). If you export your data without making any changes, it will look something like this:

World Development Indicators screenshot

This probably does not look like the example datasheet you’ve seen in your quant class. Generally, you’ll want your indicators to appear across the top row and have data down each column, not jumbled down one column, and you’ll want your country cases to be unique to each row.  In order to achieve this, you’ll need to perform a little switch-a-roo with the time and series boxes (on the WDI export screen. Now the red doodles make sense!).

Click and drag the ‘Time’ button to the Row box and the ‘Series’ button to the ‘Column box’. Export again, and you’ll end up with something like this:

World Development Indicators screenshot

Now each country case is on a different row, and each variable has a different column. At this point you can clean up your data by deleting some unwanted columns (you may not need the country code, year, or year code columns, especially if you’re just working with one year). If you intend to export this Excel data sheet to SPSS or STATA, you will need to rename your variables into names that are friendly to those programs (i.e. short, no spaces, no unusual characters, etc).

As always, ask a consultant for help if you get lost or have any questions!