Rethinking the Millennium Development Goals: Stakeholders’ Perceptions and Strategic Choices

How do developing countries set priorities and define realistically achievable goals within the millennium development goals?

Project Summary

In light of the current economic slowdown, the prospect of achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 looks increasingly slim. Hence at this stage, it is crucial that strategic choices regarding the MDGs are revised realistically. Limited resources – both domestic and official development assistance (ODA) – should be allocated ‘optimally’ among the individual goals, and across the developing world. However, the questions of how a country should set its priorities among the broad range of development goals, what financial and institutional resources it should allocate for each goal, and how it should address potential trade-offs are contentious.

In this context, there is a need to shed more light on how different groups of stakeholders perceive the MDGs in a broader context of development. Hence this research project will conduct a choice experiment survey in seven developing countries around the world. The survey will investigate how different groups of stakeholders identify their development priorities. The choice experiment will also probe stakeholders’ preferences relating to the sources of funding necessary to achieve the targets. The results of the survey are likely to have a considerable impact on the policy debate on the MDGs.

Academic Output

Executive Summary

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have dominated the policy discourse of international development since the early 2000s. With only a year remaining until the MDGs 2015 target date, and increasing efforts to renew the goal agenda with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this study revisited national development priorities and donors’ commitments in relation to international development goals. In this context, looking at the political economy of development at the country level, this research project aimed to shed more light on how different groups of stakeholders perceive the challenges of development, how they identify their policy priorities, and to what extent donors’ commitments are in line with those priorities. The study involved surveys, including a choice experiment, in five developing countries from around the world. It is envisioned that the results of the survey will inform domestic and international policy debates on international development goals.

Working Paper

A survey-based choice experiment on the local elite’s demand for development

Little rigorous evidence exists about the properties of local demand for development measured against various international goals propagated by the United Nations and other donor agencies. This paper uses an elite survey including a choice experiment to evaluate the income and price elasticity of stated demand for 14 development areas in Guyana, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Turkey. The Almost Ideal Demand System (AIDS) models for primary and secondary areas of development are estimated. While the primary set, including education, HIV/AIDS and power infrastructure, is inelastic to increases in income, the secondary set, including biodiversity, clean air and forest protection, is mostly income elastic. In addition, non-monetary factors such as the elite’s professional affiliation, education and gender, are found to exhibit stronger influence on their demand for the secondary set than the primary set. These findings suggest that, despite the recent efforts to widen the scope of international development goals, the local elite’s demand priorities will continue to lie with the primary areas of development, which may lead to important policy implications.


Research Team

Baris Karapinar
University of Berne

Paulo Cunha
Principal Member
Columbia University in the City of New York

Ronald Dadi Mangani
Principal Member
University of Malawi

Osman Gbla
Principal Member
University of Sierra Leone

Arbinda Lal Bhomi
Principal Member
Tribhuvan University

Valerian Melikidze
Principal Member
Tbilisi Ivane Javakhishvili State University

Anirudh Singal
Principal Member
University of Berne

Yilmaz Esmer
Associated Member
Bahçesehir Üniversitesi





Policy domains


Host Institution