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Leaving No One Behind under the Post-2015 Framework: Incentivizing equitable progress through data disaggregation and interim targets


There is a growing consensus that the new framework which will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015 should have equity at its heart and should ensure that ‘No One is Left Behind’. If this consensus is to be converted to commitments and then action, disaggregated data on development outcomes will have an important role to play in monitoring and target setting. This article focuses on further operationalizing a post-2015 monitoring system aimed to ensure that no social and economic group is left behind by development progress. It examines the level of disaggregation that is possible with current data sources and introduces newly disaggregated data to monitor progress in core dimensions such as health, nutrition, and access to water and sanitation for different social and economic groups. Using examples from this data, we clarify the kind of equitable progress that is desirable after 2015, and show how monitoring and target setting might proceed. This includes setting up ‘stepping stone’ equity targets for interim years between 2015 and 2030 to ensure that governments with short political and policy time horizons have a clear incentive to work on reducing inequalities promptly.

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  1. More than two standard deviations away from the median of the standard distribution released by World Health Organization in 2006 (WHO, 2006).

  2. DHS and GRID, uses a synthetic cohort methodology (Rutstein and Rojas, 2006).

  3. This is a significant compromise because in many parts of many developing countries flush toilets are not widely used, but other facilities offer an adequate alternative under the ‘ladder’ or continuum of inadequate to good water and sanitation facilities defined by the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme.

  4. Please see appendix for data tables, which accompany this and the other examples in this section.

  5. 4. This could be partially remedied in future by including data from other sources. Time constraints prevented these being included in the first release of GRID.


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The authors benefited from discussion and comments on earlier drafts from Isabelle Cardinal, Alex Cobham, Lara Brearley, Andrew Hall, Richard Horton, Alexis Le Nestour, David McNair, Richard Morgan, Helen Morton, Emma Samman, Faiza Shaheen, France Stewart, Elizabeth Stuart, Kevin Watkins, and Francis West. Thanks to participants to Save the Children’s Public Policy Advisory Group and also to participants at a round table held in Save the Children UK. Special thanks go to Alex Cobham who had the original idea for this area of research and led the research team at Save the Children during the initial stages, and to Tom Pullum for technical advice on the algorithm to compute child mortality with DHS. The authors are grateful to Christian Oldiges and Chenyue Zhao for research assistance at various stages. All errors remain our own.

This article is based on background research undertaken to inform Save the Children’s advocacy on the post-2015 agenda at the UN General Assembly in 2014. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Save the Children.


Additional information

This is background research undertaken to inform Save the Children’s advocacy position to influence discussions during the UNGA’s meetings held in September 2014. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Save the Children.

Introduces new disaggregated data to monitor progress in health, nutrition and access to water and sanitation for different groups of children and proposes ‘stepping stone’ targets from 2015 to 2030



Data tables

Table A1

Table A1 Pace of progress in reducing malnutrition for advantaged and disadvantaged groups in Kenya and Peru

Table A2

Table A2 Pace of progress in reducing child mortality for advantaged and disadvantaged groups in Benin and Indonesia

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Kite, G., Manuel Roche, J. & Wise, L. Leaving No One Behind under the Post-2015 Framework: Incentivizing equitable progress through data disaggregation and interim targets. Development 57, 376–387 (2014).

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  • inequality
  • equity
  • group-based inequality
  • post-2015
  • sustainable development goals