Are the 2015 targets realistic?

15 April 1998

A new World Bank paper asks whether and how the international development targets (formerly known as “DAC targets”) for reducing poverty and improving social and environmental indicators might be achieved. The report examines needed economic growth levels; the relationship between income and social indicators; and the advantages and disadvantages of setting social spending targets. It concludes that:

  1. countries with greater inequality will need higher growth rates;
  2. if countries grow at levels prevailing in the early 1990s, or if performance is projected on the basis of past policy and structural conditions, many will fall short;
  3. if poor-performing countries attain the policy and institutional performance of fast-growing countries, then the majority would achieve the required growth;
  4. even with high growth, past levels of progress would lead to child mortality rates still substantially above the DAC target for 2015;
  5. incomes and other socio-economic factors – notably women’s education – are more important than public spending in explaining differences in mortality, and policy and institutional reforms, are more important than spending levels.

L. Demery and M. Walton, Are Poverty and Social Targets for the 21st Century Attainable? Contact: Lionel Demery, World Bank, tel:+1-202-473-4800; fax: +1-202-522-3237;