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  December 1999    

UNU/WIDER, UNDP launch global income database
In early November, the UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU/WIDER) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officially launched the World Income Inequality Database (WIID). This database was compiled over the period of 1997-99 as part of the UNU/WIDER-UNDP joint project on "Rising Income Inequality And Poverty Reduction: Are They Compatible?" under the direction of UNU/WIDER Director Giovanni Andrea Cornia.

One of the project's main outputs, the WIID is now available to facilitate further analysis and debate on inequality. The WIID contains information on income inequality for industrialized, developing and transition countries stored in an easily retrievable, exportable and analyzable format. It expands and improves upon the 1997 Deininger-Squire database of the World Bank by almost doubling the number of observations included and by allowing easier data retrieval and storage, graphing and data selection for use in statistical packages.

The WIID currently contains some 4,600 data points, reflecting observations made in 149 countries. As the data points originate from different sources and refer to a variety of income and population concepts, sample sizes and statistical methods, they have been assigned to two broad categories: "Reliable Data" and "Less Reliable Data."

Analyses based on the data contained in the WIID point to a widespread rise in income inequality since the early 1980s and to its acceleration in the 1990s in several countries, including all economies in transition. This and other conclusions that can be drawn from the database are highly relevant for the policy debate on inequality and poverty reduction. Indeed, the rise in income inequality poses a severe challenge to the poverty reduction targets adopted by the international community, and may even jeopardize economic growth, social cohesion and governance.

The Web version of the World Income Inequality Database is available for browsing or download from wiid.htm.

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