GRD - Government revenue dataset

About the GRD

The past decade has seen increased attention on questions related to taxation and revenue in developing countries, from both policymakers and researchers. However, the quality of available cross-country tax and revenue data has remained seriously deficient, leading to potentially flawed research results and misplaced policy advice. Given our shared interests in supporting good research and good policy, UNU-WIDER is extremely happy to be partnering with the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) to host the Government Revenue Dataset (GRD).

The GRD was created by ICTD during the period 2010-2014, with the aim of producing a substantially more complete and accurate database of government revenues, allowing for more reliable and comparable cross-country tax research. An important motivation behind the creation of the dataset was concern about the quality and transparency of data from the IMF: publicly available data had significant limitations, while the private data used in much internal IMF research was not usually available to other researchers, and appeared to contain significant errors. The immediate goal was thus to provide better and more transparent data to researchers. A longer-term target has been to encourage international organizations, led by the IMF, to invest in higher-quality revenue data and to make that data publicly available. A further goal of the GRD has been to ensure a high degree of transparency and documentation about the construction and use of the data. Every data point is attributed to a specific source, all data choices are carefully documented and potentially problematic observations are explicitly flagged.

The GRD was originally launched by ICTD in September 2014 at the Center for Global Development, Washington D.C. The launch was accompanied by a series of Working Papers demonstrating the value of the new data in updating, and providing a significant challenge to, existing research findings. A summary of that work has subsequently been published in World Development.

Who are ICTD?

The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) is a global policy research network, devoted to improving the quality of tax policy and administration in developing countries, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. You can learn more about it here.

Information on updates

The GRD is updated periodically, based on (i) changes or updates to the underlying data and (ii) feedback from users who are able to provide expertise or guidance with regard to particular countries or regions. In keeping with the wider aims of transparency and openness, users are encouraged to contact UNU-WIDER with feedback and suggestions where they have questions surrounding the data. Contact us.

Update History
  • June 2020: Inclusion of new data up to 2018, where available, and minor revisions to existing data.
  • September 2019: Inclusion of new data up to 2017.
  • September 2018: Added VAT. Inclusion of new data and extensive revisions throughout the dataset
  • November 2017: Minor revisions to metadata. Corrected ‘Total Revenue’ figures for Tunisia. Added GDP series to merged file. 
  • July 2017: Comprehensive revisions to data and inclusion of new data up to 2015. More details can be found here.
  • June 2016: 2013 data added for a number of African countries.
  • May 2016: Extensive revisions to existing data; Added user guide.       
  • January 2016: Improvements to metadata, with data now searchable by country and income group in both Stata and Excel.
  • November 2015: Minor changes to data for Qatar and Ethiopia, based on user feedback.
  • July 2015: Major update with data added up to 2012/13, revisions to existing data and correction of minor errors. A blog post describing the July 2015 update can be found here.
  • September 2014: Original dataset launch.


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