Indicators for education, health, jobs, population, and gender help capture the quality of people’s lives and provide a multidimensional portrait of the progress of societies. These data also support many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as Goal 3 on health, Goal 4 on education, Goal 5 on gender equality, Goal 6 on water and sanitation, and Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth.

Population is unique among these indicators, because an important indicator in itself, it is also necessary for constructing other indicators. For instance, it serves as the denominator for many per capita measures including per capita GNI estimates that are, in part, used to by the World Bank to determine the lending rates and credit terms for country operations. The World Bank publishes statistics on the size, growth, composition, and distribution of the population for over 200 economies and groups.

Which indicators are new?

As emerging needs call for them, new indicators are added to the WDI. The People section this year features several new indicators that help track progress toward the SDGs. For example, the World Bank and the World Health Organization worked together to develop new indicators on health service coverage and the relation between poverty and out-of-pocket health care expenditure to see how far a country has come in working toward SDG target (3.8) on achieving universal health coverage with protection from financial risk. New health expenditure indicators related to SDG target (3.c) were also added after the System of Health Accounts was revised.

Two other new indicators measure progress toward gender-equality-related SDG targets. National data on the proportion of time spend on unpaid domestic and care work by both women and men measure SDG target (5.4) on recognizing the value of unpaid care and domestic work. An indicator on women’s decision making regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care measures a part of SDG target (5.6) on ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

A new safely managed drinking water indicator takes into account whether people have ready access to good clean water; and a safely managed sanitation indicator characterizes the link in the sanitation chain from defecation to waste management. Linked to sanitation, the hygiene indicator handwashing facilities with soaps and water has also been added. And SDG Goal 6 commits to universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene with a new and more refined monitoring framework that takes into account the quality of those services.

What’s special? Unpacking the data

Data for indicators are collected, estimated and compiled by national authorities and international development agencies like the World Bank. Although WDI data are typically national averages, many of the indicators are disaggregated by sex, age, wealth quintile, and urban or rural location. Because national averages often conceal differences between population subgroups disaggregated data can better inform decision-making.

For example, estimates of malnutrition, poverty, and population at subnational levels over time can be found online, as can gender-disaggregated data on financial inclusion, employment law, and business regulations—areas where the World Bank is leading collaborative efforts to collect those data.

A selection of relevant indicators is presented below. The table shows, for each featured indicator, time coverage per year, for all countries, for each decade since the 1960s, and regional coverage for each World Bank geographical region since 2010. For detailed thematic lists please refer to the World Development Indicators Statistical Tables.