Programmatic Access to Data and Statistics from the World Bank API

Tools for searching and downloading data and statistics from the World Bank Data API (< http://data.worldbank.org/developers/api-overview>) and the World Bank Data Catalog API (< http://data.worldbank.org/developers/data-catalog-api>).


wbstats: An R package for searching and downloading data from the World Bank API.

You can install:

The latest release version from CRAN with

install.packages("wbstats")

or

The latest development version from github with

devtools::install_github("GIST-ORNL/wbstats")

Introduction

The World Bank[1] is a tremendous source of global socio-economic data; spanning several decades and dozens of topics, it has the potential to shed light on numerous global issues. To help provide access to this rich source of information, The World Bank themselves, provide a well structured RESTful API[2]. While this API is very useful for integration into web services and other high-level applications, it becomes quickly overwhelming for researchers who have neither the time nor the expertise to develop software to interface with the API. This leaves the researcher to rely on manual bulk downloads of spreadsheets of the data they are interested in. This too is can quickly become overwhelming, as the work is manual, time consuming, and not easily reproducible. The goal of the wbstats R-package is to provide a bridge between these alternatives and allow researchers to focus on their research questions and not the question of accessing the data. The wbstats R-package allows researchers to quickly search and download the data of their particular interest in a programmatic and reproducible fashion; this facilitates a seamless integration into their workflow and allows analysis to be quickly rerun on different areas of interest and with realtime access to the latest available data.

  • Access to all annual, quarterly, and monthly data available in the API
  • Support for searching and downloading data in multiple languages
  • Access to the World Bank Data Catalog Metadata, providing among other information; update schedules and supported languages
  • Ability to return POSIXct dates for easy integration into plotting and time-series analysis techniques
  • Returns data in long format for direct integration with packages like ggplot2 and dplyr
  • Support for Most Recent Value queries
  • Support for grep style searching for data descriptions and names
  • Ability to download data not only by country, but by aggregates as well, such as High Income or South Asia
  • Ability to specify countries_only or aggregates when querying data

Getting Started

Unless you know the country and indicator codes that you want to download the first step would be searching for the data you are interested in. wbsearch() provides grep style searching of all available indicators from the World Bank API and returns the indicator information that matches your query.

To access what countries or regions are available you can use the countries data frame from either wb_cachelist or the saved return from wbcache(). This data frame contains relevant information regarding each country or region. More information on how to use this for downloading data is covered later.

For performance and ease of use, a cached version of useful information is provided with the wbstats R-package. This data is called wb_cachelist and provides a snapshot of available countries, indicators, and other relevant information. wb_cachelist is by default the the source from which wbsearch() and wb() uses to find matching information. The structure of wb_cachelist is as follows

library(wbstats)
 
str(wb_cachelist, max.level = 1)
#> List of 7
#>  $ countries  :'data.frame': 304 obs. of  14 variables:
#>  $ indicators :'data.frame': 15999 obs. of  6 variables:
#>  $ sources    :'data.frame': 41 obs. of  4 variables:
#>  $ datacatalog:'data.frame': 10 obs. of  25 variables:
#>  $ topics     :'data.frame': 21 obs. of  3 variables:
#>  $ income     :'data.frame': 7 obs. of  2 variables:
#>  $ lending    :'data.frame': 4 obs. of  2 variables:

For the most recent information on available data from the World Bank API wbcache() downloads an updated version of the information stored in wb_cachelist. wb_cachelist is simply a saved return of wbcache(lang = "en"). To use this updated information in wbsearch() or wb(), set the cache parameter to the saved list returned from wbcache(). It is always a good idea to use this updated information to insure that you have access to the latest available information, such as newly added indicators or data sources.

library(wbstats)
 
# default language is english
new_cache <- wbcache()

wbsearch() searches through the indicators data frame to find indicators that match a search pattern. An example of the structure of this data frame is below

indicatorIDindicatorindicatorDescsourceOrgsourceIDsource
4310PRJ.ATT.2529.4.FEProjection: Percentage of the population age 25-29 by highest level of educational attainment. Post Secondary. FemaleShare of the population of the stated age group that has completed post-secondary or tertiary education as the highest level of educational attainment. Projections are based on collected census and survey data for the base year (around 2010) and the Medium Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP2) projection model. The SSP2 is a middle-of-the-road scenario that combines medium fertility with medium mortality, medium migration, and the Global Education Trend (GET) education scenario. For more information and other projection models, consult the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital's website: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/dataexplorer/Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/dataexplorer/12Education Statistics
4311PRJ.ATT.2529.3.MFProjection: Percentage of the population age 25-29 by highest level of educational attainment. Upper Secondary. TotalShare of the population of the stated age group that has completed upper secondary or incomplete post-secondary education as the highest level of educational attainment. Projections are based on collected census and survey data for the base year (around 2010) and the Medium Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP2) projection model. The SSP2 is a middle-of-the-road scenario that combines medium fertility with medium mortality, medium migration, and the Global Education Trend (GET) education scenario. For more information and other projection models, consult the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital's website: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/dataexplorer/Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital: http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/dataexplorer/12Education Statistics

By default the search is done over the indicator and indicatorDesc fields and returns the columns indicatorID and indicator of the matching rows. The indicatorID values are inputs into wb(), the function for downloading the data. To return all columns for the indicators data frame, you can set extra = TRUE.

library(wbstats)
 
unemploy_vars <- wbsearch(pattern = "unemployment")
head(unemploy_vars)
#>    indicatorID
#> 35   WP15177.9
#> 36   WP15177.8
#> 37   WP15177.7
#> 38   WP15177.6
#> 39   WP15177.5
#> 40   WP15177.4
#>                                                                                        indicator
#> 35         Received government transfers in the past year, income, richest 60% (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 36         Received government transfers in the past year, income, poorest 40% (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 37 Received government transfers in the past year, secondary education or more (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 38   Received government transfers in the past year, primary education or less (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 39                Received government transfers in the past year, older adults (% ages 25+) [w2]
#> 40              Received government transfers in the past year, young adults (% ages 15-24) [w2]

Other fields can be searched by simply changing the fields parameter. For example

library(wbstats)
 
blmbrg_vars <- wbsearch(pattern = "Bloomberg", fields = "sourceOrg")
head(blmbrg_vars)
#>        indicatorID                             indicator
#> 878   WHEAT_US_HRW        Wheat, US, HRW, $/mt, current$
#> 2080      SUGAR_US         Sugar, US, cents/kg, current$
#> 3973  RUBBER1_MYSG Rubber, Singapore, cents/kg, current$
#> 10583   GFDD.SM.01                Stock price volatility
#> 10591   GFDD.OM.02 Stock market return (%, year-on-year)
#> 14187    CRUDE_WTI       Crude oil, WTI, $/bbl, current$

Regular expressions are also supported.

library(wbstats)
 
# 'poverty' OR 'unemployment' OR 'employment'
povemply_vars <- wbsearch(pattern = "poverty|unemployment|employment")
 
head(povemply_vars)
#>    indicatorID
#> 35   WP15177.9
#> 36   WP15177.8
#> 37   WP15177.7
#> 38   WP15177.6
#> 39   WP15177.5
#> 40   WP15177.4
#>                                                                                        indicator
#> 35         Received government transfers in the past year, income, richest 60% (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 36         Received government transfers in the past year, income, poorest 40% (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 37 Received government transfers in the past year, secondary education or more (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 38   Received government transfers in the past year, primary education or less (% ages 15+) [w2]
#> 39                Received government transfers in the past year, older adults (% ages 25+) [w2]
#> 40              Received government transfers in the past year, young adults (% ages 15-24) [w2]

The default cached data in wb_cachelist is in English. To search indicators in a different language, you can download an updated copy of wb_cachelist using wbcache(), with the lang parameter set to the language of interest and then set this as the cache parameter in wbsearch(). Other languages are supported in so far as they are supported by the original data sources. Some sources provide full support for other languages, while some have very limited support. If the data source does not have a translation for a certain field or indicator then the result is NA, this may result in a varying number matches depending upon the language you select.

library(wbstats)
 
# download wbcache in spanish
wb_cachelist_es <- wbcache(lang = "es")
 
gini_vars <- wbsearch(pattern = "Coeficiente de Gini", cache = wb_cachelist_es)
 
head(gini_vars)
#>           indicatorID                                       indicator
#> 15826   3.2.TheilInd1                   Índice de Theil, GE(1),Urbano
#> 15828        3.2.Gini                                    Gini, Urbano
#> 15839   3.1.TheilInd1                   Índice de Theil, GE(1), Rural
#> 15841        3.1.Gini                                     Gini, Rural
#> 15854   3.0.TheilInd1                          Índice de Theil, GE(1)
#> 15863 3.0.Gini_nozero Coeficiente de Gini (Ingreso diferente de cero)

Once you have found the set of indicators that you would like to explore further, the next step is downloading the data with wb(). The following examples are meant to highlight the different ways in which wb() can be used and demonstrate the major optional parameters.

The default value for the country parameter is a special value of all which as you might expect, returns data on the selected indicator for every available country or region.

library(wbstats)
 
# Population, total
pop_data <- wb(indicator = "SP.POP.TOTL", startdate = 2000, enddate = 2002)
 
head(pop_data)
#>       value date indicatorID         indicator iso2c
#> 1 293402563 2002 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    1A
#> 2 287291826 2001 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    1A
#> 3 281326250 2000 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    1A
#> 4   6532561 2002 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    S3
#> 5   6497461 2001 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    S3
#> 6   6454716 2000 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    S3
#>                  country
#> 1             Arab World
#> 2             Arab World
#> 3             Arab World
#> 4 Caribbean small states
#> 5 Caribbean small states
#> 6 Caribbean small states

If you are interested in only some subset of countries or regions you can pass along the specific codes to the country parameter. The country and region codes that can be passed to the country parameter correspond to the coded values from the iso2c, iso3c, regionID, adminID, and incomeID from the countries data frame in wb_cachelist or the return of wbcache(). Any values from the above columns can mixed together and passed to the same call

library(wbstats)
 
# Population, total
# country values: iso3c, iso2c, regionID, adminID, incomeID
pop_data <- wb(country = c("ABW","AF", "SSF", "ECA", "NOC"),
               indicator = "SP.POP.TOTL", startdate = 2012, enddate = 2012)
#> Warning in wb(country = c("ABW", "AF", "SSF", "ECA", "NOC"), indicator =
#> "SP.POP.TOTL", : The following country values are not valid and are being
#> excluded from the request: NOC
 
head(pop_data)
#>       value date indicatorID         indicator iso2c
#> 1    102393 2012 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    AW
#> 2  29726803 2012 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    AF
#> 3 403830537 2012 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    7E
#> 4 922855109 2012 SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    ZG
#>                                         country
#> 1                                         Aruba
#> 2                                   Afghanistan
#> 3 Europe & Central Asia (excluding high income)
#> 4                            Sub-Saharan Africa

Queries with multiple indicators return the data in a long data format

library(wbstats)
 
pop_gdp_data <- wb(country = c("US", "NO"), indicator = c("SP.POP.TOTL", "NY.GDP.MKTP.CD"),
               startdate = 1971, enddate = 1971)
 
head(pop_gdp_data)
#>          value date    indicatorID         indicator iso2c       country
#> 1 3.903039e+06 1971    SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    NO        Norway
#> 2 2.076610e+08 1971    SP.POP.TOTL Population, total    US United States
#> 3 1.458311e+10 1971 NY.GDP.MKTP.CD GDP (current US$)    NO        Norway
#> 4 1.167770e+12 1971 NY.GDP.MKTP.CD GDP (current US$)    US United States

If you do not know the latest date an indicator you are interested in is available for you country you can use the mrv instead of startdate and enddate. mrv stands for most recent value and takes a integer corresponding to the number of most recent values you wish to return

library(wbstats)
 
eg_data <- wb(country = c("IN"), indicator = 'EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS', mrv = 1)
 
eg_data
#>   value date    indicatorID                               indicator iso2c
#> 1  78.7 2012 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#>   country
#> 1   India

You can increase this value and it will return no more than the mrv value. However, if mrv is greater than the number of available data it will return less

library(wbstats)
 
eg_data <- wb(country = c("IN"), indicator = 'EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS', mrv = 10)
 
eg_data
#>   value date    indicatorID                               indicator iso2c
#> 1  78.7 2012 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 2  75.0 2010 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 3  62.3 2000 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 4  50.9 1990 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#>   country
#> 1   India
#> 2   India
#> 3   India
#> 4   India

An additional parameter that can be used along with mrv is gapfill. gapfill allows you to "fill-in" the values between actual observations. The "filled-in" value for an otherwise missing date is the last observed value carried forward.The only difference in the data call below from the one directly above is gapfill = TRUE (the default is FALSE). Note the very important difference

library(wbstats)
 
eg_data <- wb(country = c("IN"), indicator = 'EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS', mrv = 10, gapfill = TRUE)
 
eg_data
#>    value date    indicatorID                               indicator iso2c
#> 1   78.7 2016 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 2   78.7 2015 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 3   78.7 2014 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 4   78.7 2013 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 5   78.7 2012 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 6   75.0 2011 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 7   75.0 2010 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 8   62.3 2009 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 9   62.3 2008 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#> 10  62.3 2007 EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS Access to electricity (% of population)    IN
#>    country
#> 1    India
#> 2    India
#> 3    India
#> 4    India
#> 5    India
#> 6    India
#> 7    India
#> 8    India
#> 9    India
#> 10   India

Because gapfill returns data that does reflect actual observed values, use this option with care.

The default format for the date column is not conducive to sorting or plotting, especially when downloading sub annual data, such as monthly or quarterly data. To address this, if TRUE, the POSIXct parameter adds the additional columns date_ct and granularity. date_ct converts the default date into a POSIXct. granularity denotes the time resolution that the date represents. This option requires the use of the package lubridate (>= 1.5.0). If POSIXct = TRUE and lubridate (>= 1.5.0) is not available, a warning is produced and the option is ignored

library(wbstats)
 
oil_data <- wb(indicator = "CRUDE_BRENT", mrv = 10, freq = "M", POSIXct = TRUE)
 
head(oil_data)
#>   value    date indicatorID                          indicator iso2c
#> 1 49.73 2016M10 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#> 2 46.19 2016M09 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#> 3 46.14 2016M08 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#> 4 45.07 2016M07 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#> 5 48.48 2016M06 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#> 6 47.13 2016M05 CRUDE_BRENT Crude oil, Brendt, $/bbl, nominal$    1W
#>   country    date_ct granularity
#> 1   World 2016-10-01     monthly
#> 2   World 2016-09-01     monthly
#> 3   World 2016-08-01     monthly
#> 4   World 2016-07-01     monthly
#> 5   World 2016-06-01     monthly
#> 6   World 2016-05-01     monthly

The POSIXct = TRUE option makes plotting and sorting dates much easier.

library(wbstats)
library(ggplot2)
#> Warning: package 'ggplot2' was built under R version 3.2.5
 
oil_data <- wb(indicator = c("CRUDE_DUBAI", "CRUDE_BRENT", "CRUDE_WTI", "CRUDE_PETRO"),
               startdate = "2012M01", enddate = "2014M12", freq = "M", POSIXct = TRUE)
 
ggplot(oil_data, aes(x = date_ct, y = value, colour = indicator)) + geom_line(size = 1) +
  labs(title = "Crude Oil Price Comparisons", x = "Date", y = "US Dollars")

The POSIXct = TRUE option also makes plotting time series with different time coverage seamless

library(wbstats)
library(ggplot2)
 
# querying seperate for differing time coverage example
gold_data <- wb(indicator = "GOLD", mrv = 120, freq = "M", POSIXct = TRUE)
plat_data <- wb(indicator = "PLATINUM", mrv = 60, freq = "M", POSIXct = TRUE)
 
metal_data <- rbind(gold_data, plat_data)
 
ggplot(metal_data, aes(x = date_ct, y = value, colour = indicator)) + geom_line(size = 1) +
  labs(title = "Precious Metal Prices", x = "Date", y = "US Dollars")

Some Sharp Corners

There are a few behaviors of the World Bank API that being aware of could help explain some potentially unexpected results. These results are known but no special actions are taken to mitigate them as they are the result of the API itself and artifically limiting the inputs or results could potentially causes problems or create unnecessary rescrictions in the future.

If you make a query with wb() and the startdate and enddate no not overlap at all with the available data, then all of the data is returned instead of nothing.

library(wbstats)
 
pop_data <- wb(country = "US", indicator = "SP.POP.TOTL", 
               startdate = 1800, enddate = 1805, POSIXct = TRUE)
 
nrow(pop_data)
#> [1] 56
max(pop_data$date_ct)
#> [1] "2015-01-01"
min(pop_data$date_ct)
#> [1] "1960-01-01"

If you use the mrv parameter in wb() with mutliple countries or regions, it searches for the most recent dates for which any country or region in your selection has data and then returns the data for those dates. In other words the mrv value is not determined on a country by country basis, rather it is determined across the entire selection.

library(wbstats)
 
eg_data_1 <- wb(country = c("IN", "AF"), indicator = 'EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS', mrv = 1)
eg_data_1
#>      value date    indicatorID
#> 2 38.99062 2012 EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS
#>                                                            indicator iso2c
#> 2 Renewable energy consumption (% of total final energy consumption)    IN
#>   country
#> 2   India
 
eg_data_2 <- wb(country = c("IN", "AF"), indicator = 'EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS', mrv = 2)
eg_data_2
#>      value date    indicatorID
#> 2 10.80752 2011 EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS
#> 3 38.99062 2012 EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS
#> 4 39.85413 2011 EG.FEC.RNEW.ZS
#>                                                            indicator iso2c
#> 2 Renewable energy consumption (% of total final energy consumption)    AF
#> 3 Renewable energy consumption (% of total final energy consumption)    IN
#> 4 Renewable energy consumption (% of total final energy consumption)    IN
#>       country
#> 2 Afghanistan
#> 3       India
#> 4       India

Not all data sources support all languages. If an indicator does not have a translation for a particular language, the non-supported fields will return as NA. This could potentially result in a differing number of matching indicators from wbsearch()

 
library(wbstats)
 
# english
cache_en <- wbcache()
sum(is.na(cache_en$indicators$indicator))
#> [1] 0
 
# spanish
cache_es <- wbcache(lang = "es")
sum(is.na(cache_es$indicators$indicator))
#> [1] 14252

Legal

The World Bank Group, or any of its member instutions, do not support or endorse this software and are not libable for any findings or conclusions that come from the use of this software.

[1] http://www.worldbank.org/

[2] http://data.worldbank.org/developers

News

wbstats v0.1.1 (Release date: 09/20/2016)

Changes:

  • Add 'aggregates' and 'countries_only' options to wb() per bapfeld pr
  • update cached data in wb_cachelist

Reference manual

It appears you don't have a PDF plugin for this browser. You can click here to download the reference manual.

install.packages("wbstats")

0.1.1 by Jesse Piburn, a year ago


https://github.com/GIST-ORNL/wbstats


Browse source code at https://github.com/cran/wbstats


Authors: Jesse Piburn [aut, cre], UT-Battelle, LLC [cph]


Documentation:   PDF Manual  


Task views: Econometrics


MIT + file LICENSE license


Imports httr, jsonlite

Suggests ggplot2, knitr, lubridate


Suggested by googleVis.


See at CRAN