IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Employment and Millennium Development Goals


  • Azizur R. Khan


This paper looks at the role of employment-intensive growth in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 ratified by setting specific targets with respect to eight different goals: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality; reduction of child mortality; improved maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and promoting global partnership for development. With the exception of the last goal, which is a matter for the international community dominated by the advanced countries, the remaining goals are to be pursued by individual developing countries by adopting appropriate policies. The seven such goals may conveniently be divided into three categories: (a) those that may by and large be treated as private goods whose benefits are mainly captured by their recipients; the promotion of personal income is the principal instrument for their achievement; (b) those that are characterized by substantial externalities in that they provide benefits not only to their direct recipients but also to others; their achievement is a matter of both private income generation and public action; and (c) those goals that are public goods characterized by non-excludability and non-rivalry; their achievement is primarily a matter of public action. The first MDG - reduction of poverty and hunger - is achieved by rapid and inequality-averse economic growth filtering down to households and providing the poor with an increase in personal income to enable them to rise above the poverty threshold which is defined in terms of personal income. Employment-intensive growth is the principal instrument for the achievement of this goal. There can be plenty of scope for public action in promoting this kind of growth and for supplementary public action to augment the income of the poor households who are bypassed by such growth. But the instrument for the reduction of poverty and hunger is the augmentation of personal income. For the attainment of the MDGs entailing externalities it is not enough to augment personal income. Households would not spend enough to purchase the socially desirable amounts of education and health for children and healthcare for mothers. Public action would be necessary to supplement private expenditure to attain desirable quantities of these services. The attainment of desirable levels of public goods like gender empowerment, control of epidemic diseases and environmental protection would be even more a matter of public action and expenditure with at best a limited role for private expenditure. Compared to the earlier development goal of promoting growth with poverty reduction, the endorsement of MDGs as the principal development strategy by the world community thus represents a substantial widening of the role of public action in development, a point that should be adequately recognized. Employment-intensive growth would need to be supplemented by a broad range of public action in the achievement of the MDG package. The paper analyzes the range of policies related to the promotion of employment-intensive growth and other public actions needed to attain the three categories of MDGs. It illustrates the above by taking a close look at the performance of four countries – Armenia, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Mongolia – in attaining MDGs. It also looks at a more limited set of aspects of performance in attaining MDGs for a larger set of so-called poor Integrated Package Service countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Azizur R. Khan, 2007. "Employment and Millennium Development Goals," Working Papers wp147, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp147

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp147. 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: (Judy Fogg). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.