Penn World Table

Institution

The Penn World Table (PWT) provides a set of economic time-series based on national accounts covering most of the countries in the world. The dataset is produced by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and is based on the so-called benchmark comparisons of the International Comparison Programme (ICP). The Penn was closely involved in the early benchmark studies in the 1960s and 70s; in 1980 the participation of the university changed to combining the results of various regional benchmark studies into world benchmark comparisons. This effort became the basis for extending the work across countries and time in the form of the Penn World Table.

The latest version of the dataset, the PWT 7.1, was prepared by Alan Heston, Robert Summers and Bettina Aten, Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University of Pennsylvania, in July 2012.

Databases

Penn World Table 7.1.

Penn World Table

Website

Penn World Table

Format

SAS, CSV, On-screen tables

Timespan

1950-2009

Coverage

189 countries

Last reviewed

06/08/12

Data types and sources

Data from national accounts and official registers.

Data download

Penn World Table

Topics

The aim of the PWT is to allow for real quantity comparisons, both between countries and over time, by denominating the expenditure entries in a common set of prices in a common currency. The core of the dataset is therefore various variables measuring gross domestic product at purchasing-power parity (GDP at PPP) and national income accounts converted to international prices.

Geographical coverage

The dataset contains data for 189 countries.

Time coverage and updates

Years covered: 1950-2009 (2005 as base year). The PWT is updated regularly with an interval of some years. Last update: July, 2012 (PWT 7.1).

Documentation

The variables are described in a fair amount of detail in the description of PWT 7.0 and 7.1, and in about the variables in PWT 7.1. PWT is also described in Summers and Heston (1991).

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge.

Access procedures

The data are accessed through an interactive application that is easy and straightforward to use. The application allows users to specify subsets of the data by selecting countries, years and variables.

Data formats

On-screen tables. Download available in HTML, SAS and CSV format.

Comparability and data quality

The data in the PWT are compiled and adjusted especially in order to permit comparisons between countries and over time, using purchasing-power parities (PPPs) based on benchmark comparisons from the International Comparison Programme (ICP). One of the main strengths of the dataset is its long time scope and broad geographical coverage, and the PWT is one of the most widely used sources of GDP at PPP statistics (Neary 2004: 1411). It has been used in a host of acclaimed scholarly works in comparative politics (e.g., Przeworski et al. 2000; Ross 2001).

Electronic resource

Center for International Comparisons at the University of Pennsylvania

Literature

Neary, J. Peter. 2004. “Rationalizing the Penn World Table: true multilateral indices for international comparisons of real income”. American Economic Review 94 (December): 1411-1428.

Przeworski, Adam, Michael E. Alvarez, José Antonio Cheibub and Fernando Limongi. 2000. Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ross, Michael L. 2001. “Does oil hinder democracy?” World Politics 53 (April): 325-361.

Rydland, Lars Tore, Sveinung Arnesen and Åse Gilje Østensen. 2008. Contextual data for the European Social Survey. An Overview and assessment of extant resources. NSD Report No.124, Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD).

Summers, Robert, and Alan Heston. 1991. “The Penn World Table (mark 5): an expanded set of international comparisons, 1950-1988”. Quarterly Journal of Economics 106 (May): 327-368.