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Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report Card: Measuring Progress Across Countries

Research reports

Written by Stephanie Levy, Alberto Lemma

Research reports

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided an important motivational force and yardstick for this progress. In their design, the goals were deliberately ambitious, their achievement requiring unparalleled progress in most countries. The fact that many countries will achieve a significant number of the goals and transform the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people should be a sign of hope and a spur to action for others. The challenge for their remaining five years and beyond is to learn from and build on this progress.

This report presents data on how countries are closing in on the MDG targets. It unpacks the targets and indicators to map out how the development process is playing out across countries and continents. It goes beyond standard global and country-level assessments to provide insights into how these gains are being shared across income, rural-urban and gender groups. It identifies the ‘star’ performers that have made the greatest gains, shines a light on unexpected outcomes from the pursuit of the MDG targets and sounds out warnings where progress has stalled or is heading in the wrong direction.

It reveals the remarkable achievements of countries such as:

  • Ethiopia, where the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 61% to 29% in 18 years and primary enrolment increased from 22% to 72% in 16 years.

  • Angola and Niger, which have reduced their under-five mortality ratios by more than 100 per 1,000 deaths in less than two decades.

  • The success of India and China – the world’s most populous countries.

But it also highlights where countries are falling short of meeting their targets. It goes beyond the MDG targets to show that progress on a number of indicators masks inequity within countries, in some cases rising inequity. It reveals the countries where the poorest members of society are losing out to wealthier groups despite big strides towards meeting the MDG targets.