Global Data Lab

Nijmegen Center for Economics(NiCE)
Institute for Management Research

Global Data Lab

Innovative Instruments for Turning Data into Knowledge

Follow @globaldatalab on Twitter

Global Data Lab

The Global Data Lab (GDL) creates databases and develops instruments for measuring and analyzing the status and progress of societies. The focus is largely, but not completely, on developing countries. The instruments include indicators, specialized databases, and web-based tools for translating data into understandable and usable knowledge.

At the heart of the Data Lab is the Database Developing World (DDW), a huge data infrastructure in which several hundreds of household survey datasets are connected and harmonized. The DDW currently contains information on over 20 million persons in 110 countries from all regions of the developing world. It combines survey datasets from major data sources like DHS, MICS, LSMS, WHS and PAPFAM and is continuously updated.

Instruments developed at GDL

International wealth index

International Wealth Index (IWI) is the first comparable asset-based indicator of the economic situation of households across the developing world. IWI was constructed on data of over 2.1 million households in 97 countries. It provides a stable and understandable yardstick for comparing societies' wealth, inequality and poverty.

Area Database

Area Database containing demographic, socio-economic and health related indicators for sub-national regions within developing countries. With this database, changes over time in socio-economic and health indicators within 500+ sub-national regions can be monitored and analyzed using standard panel techniques. The data also constitute a rich source of context information for multilevel research.


EDUCOEF is a knowledge system that presents educational attendance rates and risk factors for non-participation at the level of 400+ sub-national regions within 42 African countries. The information presented by EDUCOEF is derived from the DDW and translated into a form that is understandable, usable, and accessible by a broad audience of researchers, policy makers and other interested users.

Twin Database

Twin Database containing information on 50,000+ twins in 76 developing countries, derived from DHS data. From this database, the first comprehensive picture of twinning rates across the developing world was derived. The twin data included in it offer many interesting research opportunities.

Length of Life

Life tables provide information on life expectancy and life inequality within human societies. Our Length of Life Database includes 9000 life tables for 200+ countries, going back far into the 19th century. With this database the pattern of association between life expectancy and life inequality has been identified. Inequality is lower in countries with higher life expectancy, but at any level of life expectancy inequality differs among countries.

GDL Research

Major research topics of the GDL team are differences within and among countries with regard to poverty, educational participation, health and health care, family formation, child labour, women's employment, child mortality, intermarriage, and gender inequalities.

GDL Tweets

GDL News

  1. 2016-10-03

    Area Database 2.4.0. New version of webinterface released. The option to compare more indicators at one point in time has been added. In the category 'fertility' now age-specific fertility rates are available.

  2. 2016-09-22

    Area Database 2.3.0. Indicators now also available for poor and nonpoor households separately! New indicators: Percentage of households with a washing machine and with a computer. New data for Lebanon, Libya, Kuwait, and Myanmar.

  3. 2016-09-07

    Area Database 2.2.0. New data added for Botswana, Ecuador and El Salvador.

  4. 2016-08-28

    Area Database 2.1.0. New indicators: Patrilocality index, percentage patrilocal and matrilocal households in region and an indicator for the phase of the demographic window of opportunity in the region. New data added for India, Iraq, Thailand, Suriname, Djibouti, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica.

  5. 2016-06-29

    An Open Data Blog written by Jeroen Smits about the GDL Area Database was published today on the World Bank website. You find it here.

More news »