Have the MDGs affected developing country policies and spending?

Date published on source: 
21 August 2015
Duncan Green
Source organisation: 
World Bank

One of the many baffling aspects of the post-2015/Sustainable Development Goal process is how little research there has been on the impact of their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals. That may sound odd, given how often we hear ‘the MDGs are on/off track’ on poverty, health, education etc, but saying ‘the MDG for poverty reduction has been achieved five years ahead of schedule’ is not at all the same as saying ‘the MDGs caused that poverty reduction’ – a classic case of confusing correlation with causation.

So I gave heartfelt thanks when Columbia University’s Elham Seyedsayamdost got in touch after a previous whinge on this topic, and sent me her draft paper for UNDP which, as far as I know, is the first systematic attempt to look at the impact of the MDGs on national government policy.

Here’s the abstract, with my commentary in brackets/italics.  The full paper is here.  Elham would welcome any feedback (es548[at]columbia[dot]edu):

  • Extract: readers can read the abstract of the paper, with commentary by Duncan Green, here