Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Did they change social reality?

Janyl Moldalieva, Arip Muttaqien, Choolwe Muzyamba, Davina Osei, Eli Stoykova & Nga Le


The aim of the paper is to investigate whether the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) changed social realities of people around the world or not. By answering this question, we contribute to the longstanding debate on whether social improvement in the lives of people is MDG-precipitated or it is incidental to the introduction of MDGs. We make use of interrupted time series analysis and show that although there has been improvement in social realities of people around the world between 1990 and 2013, the two dominant opposing views on the role of MDGs in this process are uncandid. Although the genesis of the improvement was in the early 1990s (before the introduction of MDGs), there is no way of stating without question that the improvement in social realities would have been sustained after 2001 in the absence of MDGs. We conclude that given the above, the question should not be "whether the MDGs have improved social realities or not". Instead, we recommend that in order to effectively assess the usefulness of the MDGs, one needs to conduct a tedious and complex task of "tracing-the-change" by following through the chain of policy changes triggered by the MDGs.

Keywords: Millennium Development Goals, impact, social realities, Interrupted Time Series Analysis, Sub-Saharan Africa

JEL Classification: A13, I14, I24