The Institutional Profiles Database (IPD) is a database quantifying the institutional characteristics of a set of developing and developed countries. The third IDP was published recently and can be consulted at no charge. It now covers 123 developed, transition and developing countries. Its predecessors, the 2001 and 2006 editions, covered 51 and 85 countries respectively.

IPD 2009 has been enriched with new institutional economic contributions, particularly those of Nobel laureate Douglass North around the concept of "open access social order" and the tools of political economy. A first perusal of IPD 2009 confirms the findings of the earlier versions and enriches the analysis of institutional systems in the developing countries.

The IPD project is part of the "Institutions, governance and long-term growth" research programme, a multiyear effort by the French Development Agency (AFD). The goal of the programme is to provide a more in-depth analysis of the relationship between institutions and development, based on country monographs and quantitative analyses drawing on the IPD in particular. The programme is being conducted in partnership with the University of Maastricht, London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a working group set up by the World Bank around the work of Douglass North, John Wallis and Barry Weingast.

The IPD project has a scientific aim, namely to stimulate research into institutional measurement and into the analysis of the role institutions play in development. The resulting indicators are unsuited for operational use, e.g. as criteria for the allocation of funds.

This issue of Trésor Economics presents the database and the findings of the initial exploration of the information contained in the IPD 2009 indicators, and then places this work within the context of the global work programme carried out with the AFD.