IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wpa/wuwpdc/0405011.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Clemens

    (Center for Global Development)

  • Charles Kenny

    (World Bank)

  • Todd Moss

    (Center for Global Development)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Clemens & Charles Kenny & Todd Moss, 2004. "The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success," Development and Comp Systems 0405011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0405011
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 42
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/dev/papers/0405/0405011.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hicks, Norman L., 1982. "Sector priorities in meeting basic needs: some statistical evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 489-499, June.
    2. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
    3. 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.
    4. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
    5. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Collier, Paul & Dollar, David, 2001. "Can the World Cut Poverty in Half? How Policy Reform and Effective Aid Can Meet International Development Goals," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1787-1802, November.
    9. 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.
    10. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2001. "Worms: Education and Health Externalities in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 8481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. World Bank, 2004. "Strategic Framework for Assistance to Africa : IDA and the Emerging Partnership Model," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15179, November.
    13. 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, January.
    14. 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.
    15. P. Guillaumont & L. Chauvet, 2001. "Aid and Performance: A Reassessment," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 66-92.
    16. Michael Clemens, 2004. "The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective," Working Papers 37, Center for Global Development.
    17. 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 547-571, April.
    18. 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.
    19. Hansen, Henrik & Tarp, Finn, 2001. "Aid and growth regressions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 547-570, April.
    20. 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.
    21. 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.
    22. R. Lensink & H. White, 2001. "Are There Negative Returns to Aid?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 42-65.
    23. 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.
    24. Paul Mosley & John Hudson & Arjan Verschoor, 2004. "Aid, Poverty Reduction and the 'New Conditionality'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages 217-243, June.
    25. Peter S. Heller & Sanjeev Gupta, 2002. "Challenges in Expanding Development Assistance," IMF Policy Discussion Papers 02/5, International Monetary Fund.
    26. Kraay, Aart, 2004. "When is growth pro-poor? Cross-country evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3225, The World Bank.
    27. 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.
    28. David Dollar & Craig Burnside, 2000. "Aid, Policies, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 847-868, September.
    29. 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.
    30. Thorbecke, Erik & Charumilind, Chutatong, 2002. "Economic Inequality and Its Socioeconomic Impact," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1477-1495, September.
    31. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
    32. William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
    33. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New Doubts: Revisiting "Aid, Policies, and Growth"," Working Papers 26, Center for Global Development.
    34. 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.
    35. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2004. "On The Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages 191-216, June.
    36. 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.
    37. Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances, 2001. "Growth and Human Development: Comparative Latin American Experience," Center Discussion Papers 28376, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    38. Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004. "Counting chickens when they hatch: The short-term effect of aid on growth," International Finance 0407010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    39. 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.
    40. Desmond McCarthy & Holger Wolf & Yi Wu, 2000. "The Growth Costs of Malaria," NBER Working Papers 7541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    41. 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.
    42. 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.
    43. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2003. "Halving Global Poverty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Millennium Development Goals poverty economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
    • P - Economic Systems

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:wpa:wuwpdc:0405011. 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: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 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.