The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 393–415 | Cite as

The measurement of success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals

  • Iñaki PermanyerEmail author


A new class of multidimensional indices is axiomatically characterized to assess countries’ overall success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For that purpose we distinguish between the notions of progress and success functions. While the former basically measure changes between two points in time, the later essentially check whether these changes have been large enough to reach a prespecified target. These indices overcome some of the shortcomings of other conceptually related measures that have been proposed in the literature. Using data from the UN Statistical Office for the new indices, our results suggest that: i) On average, countries have only bridged about 23 % of the gap towards complete achievement of the MDGs, and ii) The best performing countries have only bridged around 40 % of that gap. The observed evolution has been relatively small and highly uneven across countries and dimensions, therefore posing an important challenge for international development agencies and national governments who aim to promote progress in the different MDGs.


Measurement Axiomatization Success Millennium development goals 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics, Edifci E-2Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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