The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success
Growing concern that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be achieved by 2015 should not obscure the bigger picture that development progress has been occurring at unprecedented levels over the past thirty or more years. At the same time, the MDGs may perhaps create an unnecessary pessimism toward aid by labeling many development successes as failures. The first MDG of halving the number of people living in poverty will probably be met globally, but for most developing countries to achieve this at the national level, the growth rates required are at the bounds of historical precedent. Additionally, there appears to be only a weak relationship between aid and rapid economic growth. A similar problem holds for many of the other education and health goals. For many countries, the rates of progress required to meet the MDGs by 2015 are extremely high compared to historical experience and there is only a tenuous relationship between expenditure and outcomes. Nevertheless, estimates that an additional $50 billion in aid per year is necessary to meet the MDGs are frequently misinterpreted to suggest that it is also sufficient. Most of the goals are unlikely to be reached, but this will probably not be due primarily to shortfalls in aid. This is in part because development is a long-term and complex process dependent on relieving more than a supply-side constraint on resources. Aid remains vital and contributes to development progress, but even considerable increases in aid are unlikely to buy these particular goals. Goal setting is also useful, but continuing to suggest that the MDGs can be met may undermine future constituencies for aid (in donors) and reform (in recipients). The MDGs might be better viewed not as realistic targets but as reminders of the stark contrast between the world we want and the world we have, and a call to redouble our search for interventions to close the gap.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kenny, Charles, 2005. "Why Are We Worried About Income? Nearly Everything that Matters is Converging," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-19, January.
- Gustav RANIS & Frances STEWART, 2001.
"Growth And Human Development: Comparative Latin American Experience,"
The Developing Economies,
Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 39(4), pages 333-365, December.
- Gustav Ranis & Frances Stewart, 2001. "Growth and Human Development: Comparative Latin American Experience," Working Papers 826, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
- Sahn, David E. & Stifel, David C., 2003. "Progress Toward the Millennium Development Goals in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 23-52, January.
- William Easterly & Michael Kremer & Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1993.
"Good Policy or Good Luck? Country Growth Performance and Temporary Shocks,"
NBER Working Papers
4474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Easterly, William & Kremer, Michael & Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993. "Good policy or good luck?: Country growth performance and temporary shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 459-483, December.
- Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993.
"Wealthier is healthier,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1150, The World Bank.
- William Easterly, 2003.
"National Policies and Economic Growth: A Reappraisal,"
27, Center for Global Development.
- Easterly, William, 2005. "National Policies and Economic Growth: A Reappraisal," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 1015-1059 Elsevier.
- Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2001.
"On the Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth,"
EPRU Working Paper Series
03-13, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
- Lant Pritchett, 1997.
"Divergence, Big Time,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
- Lucia Hanmer & Robert Lensink & Howard White, 2003. "Infant and child mortality in developing countries: Analysing the data for Robust determinants," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 101-118.
- Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
- Thorbecke, Erik & Charumilind, Chutatong, 2002. "Economic Inequality and Its Socioeconomic Impact," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1477-1495, September.
- Michael A. Clemens, 2004.
"The Long Walk to School: International education goals in historical perspective,"
Development and Comp Systems
- Michael Clemens, 2004. "The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective," Working Papers 37, Center for Global Development.
- Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2001.
"Worms: Education and Health Externalities in Kenya,"
NBER Working Papers
8481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Education and health externalities in kenya," Natural Field Experiments 00288, The Field Experiments Website.
- Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2003. "Halving Global Poverty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
- Lensink, Robert & White, Howard, 1999.
"Are there negative returns to aid?,"
99E60, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
- Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004.
"Counting chickens when they hatch: The short-term effect of aid on growth,"
- Michael Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004. "Counting Chickens When They Hatch: The Short-term Effect of Aid on Growth," Working Papers 44, Center for Global Development.
- Deon Filmer, 2007.
"If you build it, will they come? School availability and school enrolment in 21 poor countries,"
Journal of Development Studies,
Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(5), pages 901-928.
- Filmer, Deon, 2004. "If you build it, will they come? School availability and school enrollment in 21 poor countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3340, The World Bank.
- P. Guillaumont & L. Chauvet, 2001.
"Aid and Performance: A Reassessment,"
Journal of Development Studies,
Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 66-92.
- Simon Maxwell, 2003. "Heaven or Hubris: Reflections on the New 'New Poverty Agenda'," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 21(1), pages 5-25, 01.
- Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "The impact of public spending on health: does money matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(10), pages 1309-1323, November.
- Enrique Delamonica & Santosh Mehrotra & Jan Vandemoortele, 2001. "Is EFA Affordable? Estimating the global minimum cost of 'Education for All'," Papers inwopa01/15, Innocenti Working Papers.
- World Bank, 2004. "Strategic Framework for Assistance to Africa : IDA and the Emerging Partnership Model," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15179.
- Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 2000.
"Aid and Growth Regressions,"
62288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
- Paul Mosley & John Hudson & Arjan Verschoor, 2004. "Aid, Poverty Reduction and the 'New Conditionality'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages F217-F243, 06.
- Aart Kraay, 2004.
"When is Growth Pro-Poor? Cross-Country Evidence,"
IMF Working Papers
04/47, International Monetary Fund.
- Marianne Fay & Danny Leipziger & Quentin Wodon & Tito Yepes, 2003. "Achieving the Millennium Development Goals : The role of infrastructure," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3163, The World Bank.
- Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2001.
"Can the World Cut Poverty in Half? How Policy Reform and Effective Aid Can Meet International Development Goals,"
Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1787-1802, November.
- Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2000. "Can the world cut poverty in half ? how policy reform and effective aid can meet international development goals," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2403, The World Bank.
- Desmond McCarthy & Holger Wolf & Yi Wu, 2000. "The Growth Costs of Malaria," NBER Working Papers 7541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hicks, Norman L., 1982. "Sector priorities in meeting basic needs: some statistical evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 489-499, June.
- Peter S. Heller & Sanjeev Gupta, 2002. "Challenges in Expanding Development Assistance," IMF Policy Discussion Papers 02/5, International Monetary Fund.
- Easterly, William, 1999. "The ghost of financing gap: testing the growth model used in the international financial institutions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 423-438, December.
- Devarajan, Shantayanan & Easterly, William R & Pack, Howard, 2003.
"Low Investment Is Not the Constraint on African Development,"
Economic Development and Cultural Change,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 547-71, April.
- Shantayanan Devarajan & William R. Easterly & Howard Pack, 2002. "Low Investment is Not the Constraint on African Development," Working Papers 13, Center for Global Development.
- William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New Doubts: Revisiting "Aid, Policies, and Growth"," Working Papers 26, Center for Global Development.
- Devarajan, Shantayanan & Miller, Margaret J. & Swanson, Eric V., 2002. "Goals for development : history, prospects and costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2819, The World Bank.
- Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2001.
"Growth is good for the poor,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
2587, The World Bank.
- Fay, Marianne & Leipziger, Danny & Wodon, Quentin & Yepes, Tito, 2005. "Achieving child-health-related Millennium Development Goals: The role of infrastructure," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1267-1284, August.
- Filmer, Deon & Hammer, Jeffrey S & Pritchett, Lant H, 2000. "Weak Links in the Chain: A Diagnosis of Health Policy in Poor Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 199-224, August.
- Charles Kenny, 1999. "Why aren't countries rich?: Weak states and bad neighbourhoods," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(5), pages 26-47.
- Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997.
"Aid, policies, and growth,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1777, The World Bank.
- Kenny, Charles & Williams, David, 2001. "What Do We Know About Economic Growth? Or, Why Don't We Know Very Much?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-22, January.
- Richard A. Easterlin, 2000. "The Worldwide Standard of Living since 1800," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 7-26, Winter.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:35:y:2007:i:5:p:735-751. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.