Richard Fix (202)473-3399
Cynthia Case (202) 473-6287
WASHINGTON, April 22, 2009 — The World Development Indicators (WDI) 2009, released today, tells the story through comprehensive data of how developing countries benefited from a long period of prosperity which may now be set back due to the current crisis.
“That long period of growth is now being interrupted by a global recession, which has spread through the same channels that nourished the growth of the global economy, principally trade and investment,” says Shaida Badiee, director of the Development Data Group. “The WDI is the statistical benchmark that will help measure both the impact of the crisis and, eventually, of global recovery.”
Highlights from the WDI include:
- Developing economies averaged 6.5 percent annual growth between 2000 and 2007, measured in purchasing power parity terms, while global economic output grew by 4 percent a year. During the same period, the share of world output produced by low- and middle-income economies increased from 36 to 42 percent.
- Growth in many developing economies was led by exports, which grew at an average annual rate of 12 percent over the period 2000–07. Developing economies now account for almost 30 percent of world trade, and their share has been increasing. Some of their exports go to other low- and middle-income economies, but their largest markets are still the high-income economies, which receive more than 70 percent of their exports.
- Growing economies attracted more foreign investment. After recovery from the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s, private capital flows to low- and middle-income economies more than quadrupled from $200 billion in 2000 to over $900 billion in 2007.
- To a surprising degree, developing countries financed the consumption of high-income countries. Many developing countries built up large, international reserves and invested them in U.S. securities. At the end of 2008 China was the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, at $696 billion. Total foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities were $3.1 trillion, up from $2.4 trillion in 2007.
Spread of new technology
- The WDI documents the continuing spread of new technology. Developing countries are becoming larger users and exporters of high technology. High technology goods made up 19 percent of the manufactured exports of developing countries in 2007. The leading region was East Asia & Pacific, where 31 percent of manufactured exports were classified as high technology, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (12 percent), and Europe and Central Asia (6 percent).
- India leads all countries in exports of information communication technology (ICT) services. Exports from the ICT sector increased from about $5 billion in 2000 to over $30 billion in 2006, accounting for about 42 percent of total service exports. India’s software industry employs about 1.6 million people. China is the next largest ICT services trader, with about $5.5 billion in ICT service exports.
- The spread of mobile cellular services and technologies is now connecting previously unconnected people and regions with the rest of the world. In developing countries, people are less reliant on fixed telephone lines compared to mobile cellular—by the end of 2008 there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines world-wide.
People on the move
- Net migration to high-income economies totaled 18.5 million people over the period 2000-2005. Latin America and Caribbean had the highest net out-migration among all developing regions. Mexico accounted for more than 58 percent of that. The region received $63 billion of workers’ remittances in 2007, second largest amount after East Asia and the Pacific. Mexico alone received 43 percent of that. Preliminary estimates for 2008 show total remittances to developing countries exceeding $300 billion for the first time, but a downturn is expected in 2009.
- This year’s WDI includes a new table showing the characteristics of immigrants in selected OECD countries. Ireland attracted the most highly educated migrants: 41 percent had some tertiary education. Spain attracted the least: 56 percent had only primary education. The occupational grouping most frequently represented among migrant workers is operators of machinery and equipment.
Energy and climate change
- The introduction to the environment section of this year’s WDI reviews the evidence on energy use, climate change, and the prospects for cleaner energy. Energy use has doubled since 1971. High-income economies use almost half of global energy, but energy use is growing more rapidly in developing economies. Of the world’s six largest energy consumers, three are middle-income economies: Russia, China, and India. Along with the United States, Japan, and Germany, these countries are also the largest emitters of carbon dioxide.
In addition to the book, the full WDI database is available on the Web through WDI Online or on CD-ROM. Several ‘Little Data Books’ are also available on a range of topics. An Atlas of Global Development and an Online Atlas of the MDGs (http://devdata.worldbank.org/atlas-mdg/ ) are also available.
See attached regional backgrounders for more on specific trends in the world’s five developing regions.