World Development Indicators 2008
Release of the final report of the International Comparison Program (ICP) and publication of new estimates of purchasing power parities (PPPs) in World Development Indicators 2008 are an important statistical milestone. The estimates offer a consistent and comprehensive set of data on the cost of living in developed and developing countries, the first since 1997, when the results of the previous ICP data collection were published in World Development Indicators. The 2005 data cover 146 countries and territories, 29 more than the last round in 1993, and many for the first time. Collecting data on thousands of products sold through a multitude of outlets, the 2005 ICP is the largest international statistical program ever undertaken. New methods were used to describe the products being priced, record the data, and analyze the results. Countries in Africa took the opportunity to review their national accounts and adopt new standards and methods. In all regions regional coordinators worked closely with national statistical offices to collect and validate the data. The result is a genuine global effort, with an extensive capacity building component. More work will follow from the ICP. First is the revision of the international ($1 a day) poverty line and estimation of the corresponding poverty rates, certain to change a view of the absolute level of poverty in the world. PPPs have many applications in economic analysis. They are used to determine the relative size of countries and their obligations to international institutions. The publication of new estimates will inspire a new wave of academic studies. And as all of this work goes on, planning for the next round of the ICP will be getting under way.
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