Using R to Extract Data from the World Bank's World Development Indicators

Dominique van der Mensbrugghe


This article describes three applications which use a new R-based interface that facilitates extraction of data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators (WDI) database. WDI contains over 1300 time series of socio-economic indicators and provides important inputs for the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Data Base and, as well, can assist in the development of socio-economic scenarios. The first application is a stand-alone R application that extracts per capita historical GDP for all countries and summarizes growth episodes across regions in a box plot. The two other applications highlight the increasing use of interoperability across software packages to take advantage of the specific features of each. The first couples the R-based WDI extraction with a ’Beamer’-type LATEX presentation. This is a potentially powerful combination for a quick (and programmatic) turnaround from data to presentation. With little effort, the application can be extended to generate a large number of slides. The second example of interoperability is centered on a General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS) program that calls R as a sub-process to extract the data for further processing in GAMS. The R-script developed for this last application could be readily coupled with other software packages.


Economic data; Software

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Copyright (c) 2016 Dominique van der Mensbrugghe