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History of the International Comparison Program

The program was first established in 1968 as a joint venture of the UN and  the International Comparisons Unit of the University of Pennsylvania, with financial contributions from the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. Starting with a modest project to undertake comparisons in 10 countries in 1970, further ICP rounds have been conducted in 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990 (only partial), and 1993. By the time of the last round, the ICP had expanded to the status of a truly global program. Coverage increased from the initial 10 countries in 1970 to 118 in 1993, covering all regions of the world for the first time. OECD, in collaboration with the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) has continued to collect price data to estimate PPPs in its member states and currently operates on a three-year cycle. 

Since 1993, the World Bank has assumed the role of global coordinator for the ICP in non-OECD countries. Through its Development Data Group (
DECDG), the Bank coordinates ICP surveys and publishes global PPP data sets. The 2003-2005 round of the ICP marks a turning point in the program with aims to meet criticisms leveled at the ICP and the quality of its data following the 1998 round.




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