Someone robbed the databank (at the World Bank)

More specifically, Justin Sandefur (with Sarah Dykstra and Benjamin Dykstra) at the Center for Global Development have been running a script to get full access to the data in the Povcalnet database maintained at the World Bank (by Shaohua Chen; Prem Sangraula and  Martin Ravallion). The problem that Justin and others researchers have faced is that you cannot access all the data directly, but that you have to make specific data query for each observation in the database.

The results of running 23 million data queries is soon ready, and the database will be published here with the title : “We Just Ran Twenty-Three Million Queries of the World Bank’s Web Site” .

I saw the title two days ago was “Jailbreaking the World Banks Poverty Data”. I liked that one better, but see the Sala-I-Martinesque appeal of “I just ran 4 billion regressions”. I guess what was regressions in the 90s is data scripts today.

Looking forward to reading the working paper and follow the debate that I think should follow on public access to data. When I started my PhD you had to pay to get access to any World Bank data in the World Development Indicators, fortunately that time is over, but the poverty data is still safely guarded. Until now.

Sanjay Reddy tried something similar a few years back. See tweets with quotes from Mr. Poverty himself.


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