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C. Alan Joyce

Computing Facts from the World Bank’s Labor Data

May 6, 2011 —
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In 2010, our friends at the World Bank opened up their highly regarded World Development Indicators (WDI) database, making hundreds of economics, education, health, and other indicators free to download and explore. As part of our own mission to make data more accessible and comprehensible, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve been steadily adding WDI and other World Bank data to Wolfram|Alpha, so you can answer thousands of new questions about key components of global development.

One of the first sets we tackled was data on labor and employment, which means Wolfram|Alpha can now generate some quite detailed computations and comparisons of employment-related data for most of the world’s countries and territories. Try an input like “fraction of people working in agriculture in US, Russia, and Japan” to see find out how much less agrarian these economies have become over time.

Fraction of people working in agriculture in US, Russia, Japan

Or try something like “labor force fraction with college education in Europe” to find out which country has the best-educated labor pool in a given region.

Labor force fraction with college education in Europe

Below are examples from the complete list of labor-related core properties you can explore with Wolfram|Alpha right now:

As you try general queries for each of these properties, you’ll also notice that data is also available by sex, industry, education level, age group, or other variables in many cases. So you can try queries like “Egypt, Libya, Tunisia employment to population ratio for ages 15-24” to dig more deeply into the data.

Egypt, Libya, Tunisia employment to population ratio for ages 15-24

Please note that in this source, data availability can vary wildly among countries and regions. If you don’t specify a year for a particular query, Wolfram|Alpha will compute an answer based on the most recent data available—but we’re actively working to bring in more current data for certain key properties, and we’ll alert you as updates flow into the system.

We’ll highlight more World Bank data in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let us know what you discover and what questions you’d like Wolfram|Alpha to be able to answer next.


that’s very much. well done, as usual.

Posted by andrea May 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm

What is the specification for the curation process?
If this database was significantltly out of step with data already in W|A what would be done about it. Which sedt of data would W|A use?

Is a copy of this database made on Wolfram’s own computers. If so it is hard to understand how Wolfram can maintain a copy of all data.

Posted by Brian Gilbert May 7, 2011 at 6:14 am

I’m pleased to see the World Bank data becoming available but while the input string:
Fraction of people working in agriculture in US, Russia, Japan works
the slightly modified inquiry yields wholly different results:
Fraction of people working in manufacturing in US, Russia, Japan

The results from Wolfram Alpha should not be so vastly different for such simple changes. You may also try replacing “agriculture” with “education” and get similarly disappointing results.

Posted by Stephen Wilkus May 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for fixing this, I now get proper responses for fractions of workers in services and manufacturing but the query, “Fraction of people working in teaching in US, Russia, Japan” gives the fraction of elements in people. It’s funny but not otherwise helpful.

    Posted by Stephen Wilkus January 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      The World Bank only provides breakdowns for services, agriculture, and industry — you can ask for fraction of people working in those areas, but the data just isn’t there for queries about any other segment .

      Posted by C. Alan Joyce February 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

thanks for the report, it would be very helpful for me in preparing the document analysis

Posted by John February 21, 2012 at 5:19 am