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Identifying synergies and complementarities between MDGs: Results from cluster analysis


  • Maria Carmela Lo Bue

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Stephan Klasen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)


The MDGs are interlinked: acceleration in one goal is likely to speed up progress in others. Nevertheless, these synergies are not always visible, and may differ across countries. Using bivariate cluster analysis, this paper investigates whether distinct groups of developing countries can be identified, using statistical methods, on the basis of the correlation of changes in main MDG indicators over the 1990-2008 period. Potential groups include: [1] “good performers”, characterized by strong positive synergies in MDGs indicators; [2] “poor performers”, where there are synergies in poor progress towards the MDGs and [3] “partial performers” countries where progress in one MDG went along with regress or stagnation in another. We then study the determinants of cluster membership. While growth in GDP per capita is, unsurprisingly, best able to distinguish between “good” and “poor” performers, a poor institutional framework and deteriorations in the income distribution is a notable correlate of partial progress, thus apparently undermining synergies in reaching the MDGs. In light of the current discussions about the post-MDG system, our results suggest that synergies between MDG progress can be achieved but they cannot be taken for granted. Improving institutional performance and reducing inequality appear particularly important drivers of promoting such synergies.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Carmela Lo Bue & Stephan Klasen, 2012. "Identifying synergies and complementarities between MDGs: Results from cluster analysis," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 126, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:126

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephan Klasen & Simon Lange, 2011. "Getting Progress Right: Measuring Progress Towards the MDGs Against Historical Trends," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 87, Courant Research Centre PEG, revised 20 Feb 2012.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:189:d:64225 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Maria Carmela Lo Bue, 2014. "What drives child health improvements in Indonesian households? A micro-level perspective on complementarities in MDG achievements," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 155, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    3. Shizuki Fukuda & Michio Murakami & Keigo Noda & Taikan Oki, 2016. "How Achieving the Millennium Development Goals Increases Subjective Well-Being in Developing Nations," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-19, February.

    More about this item


    Millennium Development Goals; Human Development; Cluster Analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • C38 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Classification Methdos; Cluster Analysis; Principal Components; Factor Analysis

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