Nature recently published an Editorial “Millennium development holes” on problems with the underlying data used to assess progress to the goals.
Every year, the UN rolls out reports with slick graphics, seemingly noting with precise scientific precision progress towards the goals. But the reports mask the fact that the quality of most of the underlying data sets is far from adequate. Moreover, the indicators often combine very different types of data, making aggregation and analysis of the deficient data even more complicated.
There are decent data for just a handful of indicators, such as child mortality, but for most of the 163 developing countries, many indicators do not even have two data points for the period 1990â€“2006. And few developing countries have any data for around 1990, the baseline year. It is impossible to estimate progress for most of the indicators over less than five years, and sparse poverty data can only be reliably compared over decades.
Meanwhile, here are links to a few of my recent articles: