Skip to content
Skip to Main Navigation

How does the World Bank classify countries?

In the World Development Indicators all 189 World Bank member countries, along with 28 others with populations of more than 30,000 are classified by income level and geographic region for the presentation of key statistics allowing users to aggregate, group, and compare statistical data as needed. Key classifications available include geographic regions, income groups, and operational lending categories of the World Bank Group. These are updated periodically, and the latest versions are found here

The term country, used interchangeably with economy, does not imply political independence but refers to any territory for which authorities report separate social or economic statistics.

Income groups

Economies are currently divided into four income groupings: low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high. Income is measured using gross national income (GNI) per capita, in U.S. dollars, converted from local currency using the World Bank Atlas method. Estimates of GNI are obtained from economists in World Bank country units; and the size of the population is estimated by World Bank demographers from a variety of sources, including the UN’s biennial World Population Prospects.

Countries are immediately assigned on July 1 of each year, based on their estimate of Atlas GNI per capita for the previous calendar year. For example, the classification released on July 1, 2022 is based on estimates for the fiscal year 2021. Income groupings remain fixed for the entire fiscal year (i.e., until July 1 of the following year), even if Atlas GNI per capita estimates are revised in the meantime. 

For more information see:

How are the income group thresholds determined?
Why use GNI per capita to classify economies into income groupings?

Download an Excel file of historical classifications by income.

Geographic regions

Groupings are primarily based on regions used for administrative purposes by the World Bank. There are two main variants: one which includes all economies, and one which excludes high-income economies.

Operational lending categories

Economies are also divided into IDA, IBRD, and Blend categories based on the operational policies of the World Bank. International Development Association (IDA) countries are those with low per capita incomes that lack the financial ability to borrow from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Blend countries are eligible for IDA loans but are also eligible for IBRD loans because they are financially creditworthy.

Reassignments of operational lending categories may occur at any time but will only be reflected in World Development Indicators or other databases when those databases are updated.

Other groupings

Other country groupings in World Development Indicators include OECD member countries, countries in the euro area, member states of the European Union, the UN Least Developed Countries classification, and the World.

Thank you for visiting the World Bank's Data Help Desk. Please review the terms of use for this website. Your continued use of this website constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

Developer Info

Feedback and Knowledge Base