Morten Jerven Morten Jerven

How much will the Data Revolution cost?

What used to be 8 Millennium Development Goals are now 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The list of targets has ballooned from 18 to 169. The final list of indicators has not yet been determined. My estimate suggest that just the monitoring such a list would cost about $250 billion over 15 years — or twice what is spent annually on Official Development Assistance globally. In other words, if the list is adopted as suggested and it was to be accompanied be serious measurement, we would have to set aside all ODA to measurement in the first and the second year and then only in the third year would there be any funds to even begin to vaccinate, feed and school children. It is very likely that success and failure in the post-2015 agenda will be measured with deficient and bad data unless the list of targets is radically shortened.

The full paper is here.

Bjorn Lomborg reacted to the cost estimate in the Guardian.

Cheryl Doss, Senior Lecturer in African Studies and Economics at Yale University, argued that we should ask for more data.

I responded:

When Rabbit asked Winnie the Pooh whether he wanted honey or condensed milk with his bread Pooh excitedly answered, “Both.” But then not to seem greedy, he added, “But don’t bother about the bread, please.”

The debate on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, is reminiscent of a Winnie-the-Pooh-approach to measuring development. Do you want your poverty measure disaggregated by region or by gender? Both, and don’t bother worrying about the measurement please.

Read the fullĀ  response here.


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