Our World in Data
Mission and content
The mission of Our World in Data is to present "research and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems".
The web publication on global development uses interactive data visualizations (charts and maps) to present the research findings on development that explain the causes and consequences of the observed changes. The aim is to show how the world is changing and why.
Our World in Data covers a wide range of topics across many academic disciplines: Trends in health, food provision, the growth and distribution of incomes, violence, rights, wars, culture, energy use, education, and environmental changes are empirically analyzed and visualized in this web publication.
It often takes a long-term view to show how global living conditions have changed over the last centuries.
Covering all of these aspects in one resource makes it possible to understand how the observed long-run trends are interlinked. The research on global development is presented to the audience of interested readers, journalists, academics, and policy people. The articles cross-reference each other to make it possible for the reader to learn about the drivers of the observed long-run trends. For each topic the quality of the data is discussed and, by pointing the visitor to the sources, this website works as a database of databases – a meta-database.
Roser started to work on Our World in Data in 2011. During the first years he financed his project as a bicycle tour guide around Europe. Only later did he establish a research team at the University of Oxford that is studying global development.
In the first years Roser developed the publication together with inequality researcher Sir Tony Atkinson. The first grant to support the research project was given by the Nuffield Foundation, a London-based foundation focused on social policy. When the project ran out of funding it was rescued by the "Save OurWorldInData.org“ crowdsourcing campaign.
Until 2015 the project was built in "nights and weekends" by Roser. Only later was it developed into a research project at the University of Oxford.
In 2014 the site was read by 120,000 readers. Since then the number of readers increased. Between December 2018 and 2019 the site was read by more than 25 million readers. Our World in Data is most widely used in the anglophone world.
In 2019 Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison called for a new academic discipline of 'Progress Studies' that institutionalizes the mission of Our World in Data and Collison published a permanent recommendation to join the team of Our World in Data.
In 2019 Our World in Data won the Lovie Award, the European web award, "in recognition of their outstanding use of data and the internet to supply the general public with understandable data-driven research – the kind necessary to invoke social, economic, and environmental change."
- The entire publication is freely available.
- All data published on the website is available for download.
- All visualizations created for the web publication are made available under a Creative Commons license.
- And all tools developed to publish Our World in Data and to create the visualizations are free to use (available open source on GitHub).
Collaborations and partnerships
The Our World in Data team partnered with several organizations:
The non-profit Global Change Data Lab publishes the website and the open-access data tools that make the online publication possible. The research team is based at the University of Oxford's Oxford Martin School. Director is the founder Max Roser.
The Our World in Data research team also publishes their research work in a number of widely accessed media outlets including the BBC, Vox, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Washington Post. The research team has also collaborated with science YouTube channel Kurzgesagt to reach millions of viewers.
The team's head of research is Dr Hannah Ritchie.
Research from Our World in Data is used in many ways:
In medicine and global health journals like the British Medical Journal or The Lancet and in social science journals like the Quarterly Journal of Economics Our World in Data has been cited.
Tina Rosenberg emphasized in The New York Times that Our World in Data presents a “big picture that’s an important counterpoint to the constant barrage of negative world news”. Steven Pinker placed Roser’s Our World in Data on his list of his personal “cultural highlights” and explained in his article on 'the most interesting recent scientific news' why he considers Our World in Data so very important.
Many authors and researchers rely on Our World in Data for their work: these include David Spiegelhalter, Wali Zahid, Harini Nagendra, William MacAskill, Harini Nagendra, John Green, Tim O’Reilly, Andrew Revkin, Steven Pinker, Joia Mukherjee, Sibylle Berg, Alice Evans, Tim Harford, George Monbiot, Michael Levitt, Kelsey Piper, Patrick Webb, Scott Alexander, John Cassidy, Ruth DeFries, Paul Krugman and Steven Berlin Johnson.
Institutions that rely on this online publication for their teaching include Harvard, the University of Oxford, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, The University of Cambridge, and the University of California Berkeley. Our World in Data is used by teachers and lecturers in a range of subjects including medicine, psychology, biology, sustainable development, economics, history, politics and public policy.
In many parts of the world the research of Our World in Data is the top search result for topics the research team has worked on. These include ‘CO2 emissions’, ‘world poverty’, ‘child mortality’, and ‘population growth’.
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