The Global Consumption and Income Project: Paused
As of July 1st 2022, the Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP) is discontinuing updates, until further notice. On this page you will find an archived copy of the data, which was updated last in 2020, as well as detailed instructions on how to construct the database and the STATA code that we used for that purpose.
When we began this project over a decade ago, there was no other database that attempted to make publicly available estimates of both consumption and income in a way that was readily comparable over space and time (a wide range of countries and years) and therefore also suitable for constructing consistent regional and global aggregates of the distribution of material well being and analyzing their trends over time. Our central goal was to enable the analysis of poverty, inequality and the inclusivity of growth and development on national, regional and world scales, with a transparently constructed public data resource.
Our benchmark database presented estimates of monthly real consumption and income of quantiles of the population - what we called consumption and income profiles - for the vast majority of countries in the world (more than 160) for every year for more than half a century (1960–2015) for the first time. It allowed for data to be presented for an arbitrary number of quantiles in PPP dollars, with the possibility of choosing alternative base years or employing market exchange rates for comparison. the GCIP made it possible to estimate distributional features of economic well-being (a Lorenz curve, mean and consumption and income profiles) for any given year and country or chosen aggregate of countries - those in a given region or country grouping - as well as to estimate flexibly poverty and inequality measures of any kind. It did so by constructing survey based estimates of income and consumption for all population percentiles. The GCIP created an innovative and world leading data resource, based on household surveys alone, that could be continuously updated, and used to understand and analyze trends, do nowcasting and forecasting.
We aimed throughout for the underlying choices and data used to be made explicit so that the informed public as well as experts could understand the underlying assumptions and methods, and change these as they wished. This aim was underpinned by our belief in the importance of accountability and transparency of public data resources for distribution of consumption and income (which had been widely lacking when we began our work) and our understanding that more than one such choice could be reasonable, making it therefore important that users should be able to customize the data in accordance with their preferences.
Creating the GCIP was a labour of love, done to create a public good of information for researchers and scholars. We received no direct funding for the project and have devoted enormous time and energy to ensuring its integrity and usability. In addition to the collection of data, there was much effort involved in deciding on appropriate treatments of the data, designing and implementing algorithms, and working out how best to deal with the many special cases that required considered judgment.
Over the last few years several other databases (such as the World Inequality Database) have emerged, and other older databases such as the World Bank's Povcalnet and UNU-WIDER's World Income Inequality Database, have improved their features. Users now have much better options to choose from than they did when we began our efforts, although in our view none is still able to do quite what we set out to do - to provide a comprehensive system of estimates for all countries and years in recent decades, based on household surveys alone, that would be complete and internally comparable and therefore suitable for constructing aggregates. [These two ideas are connected, since there can be no aggregation without comparison].
It has been gratifying to see the GCIP being widely employed in a number of projects by researchers in academia, private industry, governments and international institutions, as well as by teachers and students - from high school to graduate school. It has been also pleasing to receive words of support and encouragement from users distributed throughout the world.
Since there is now much greater interest in, and availability of, data on material living standards of the kind that we set out to provide through the GCIP, and since the project still lacks adequate support, we no longer see it as the best use of our own time to continue to update it indefinitely. But users who wish to use the methods and choices we employed to generate the dataset can do so with the code we have provided, and may consult the methodology descriptions that we make available in order to do so. These will be archived here. Users are welcome to develop and circulate subsequent versions of the data using the methods and code we provide, as long as the new versions are clearly identified as such, differentiating themselves but also make appropriate attribution to the GCIP. We may or may not ourselves revive or otherwise return to this project in due course.
Best regards and thanks for your past and present interest in the project.
Arjun Jayadev and Sanjay G. Reddy
All the data for the latest version of GCIP can be accessed here.
The code required to construct the dataset can be accessed here .
The README file describing the code and instructions to update the dataset is available here.
An introduction and overview of the GCIP and the associated datasets is available at
Lahoti, Rahul, A. Jayadev & R. Lahoti (2016). "The Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP): An Overview". Journal of Globalization and Development 7(1): 61–108. Some of the methods used evolved in later editions of the database but the conceptual core of the approaches used remained as described in this paper.
Selected papers that used the GCIP:
Selected Institutional Reports
Videos and Presentations