The affordability of the Sustainable Development Goals: A myth or reality

Patima Chongcharoentanawat, Kaleab Kebede Haile, Bart Kleine Deters, Tamara Antoinette Kool, Victor Osei Kwadwo

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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Global governance in various forms has emerged as a salient means of setting and driving common development goals that are of interest to the world’s functioning at large. However, literature is divided on the attribution of achievements to the global social
governance efforts. The experience of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed the importance of setting indicators at an early stage to support a sound monitoring system. If the world is to start implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016, we cannot afford a lag of several years before putting monitoring tools in place and measuring progress towards achieving these goals.
To answer the question on the level of resources required to fulfil the SDGs target by country and income category, five low and lower middle income countries were selected from Asia, Africa, and Latin America based on availability of data and their classification as low and lower‐middle income countries: Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Senegal. The required data for the assessment is sourced from the World Bank Development Indicators Databank (WDID). The estimation of the resource requirement to adhere to the poverty, health and education targets of the SDGs involves computing three indices for each dimension. For the income gap index, two poverty lines underlie the composite resource gap as percentage of the GDP
to meet the SDGs targets on poverty. The education gap is constructed by normalising seven indices that either directly capture or proxy the governance and outcome targets on
education in the SDGs. Thirdly, this research employed a three‐step approach in estimating the normative public health expenditure gap; the staff expenditure gap; and the resource
allocation expenditure gap. To conclude, the viability of closing the cumulative resource gap is assessed in light of a country’s tax revenue.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

JEL classifications

  • h21 - "Taxation and Subsidies: Efficiency; Optimal Taxation"
  • e62 - Fiscal Policy
  • h51 - National Government Expenditures and Health
  • h52 - National Government Expenditures and Education
  • h53 - National Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs


  • sustainable development goals
  • millenium development goals
  • atribution
  • monitoring
  • fiscal stress
  • fiscal capacity
  • health
  • education
  • poverty
  • Cambodia
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Indonesia
  • Senegal

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