The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper analyzes how the UNDP, the World Bank, and the IMF classify countries based on their level of development. These systems are found lacking in clarity with regard to their underlying rationale. The paper argues that a country classification system based on a transparent, data-driven methodology is preferable to one based on judgment or ad hoc rules. Such an alternative methodology is developed and used to construct classification systems using a variety of proxies for development attainment.