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Background Information for the UN MDG Summit
Saturday, 10 July 2010

How to make MDG implementation statistics more understandable to policy makers and to common people

The new generic time distance methodology offers policy makers, NGOs, media and the general public a new view of the implementation of the MDGs that is exceptionally easy to understand and communicate. S-time-distance calculates the time lead or time lag of actual values from the lines to 2015 MDGs targets. It is like tracking the actual arrivals in comparison with the train (airplane, bus) timetable. 

Results are presented at three levels: for 8 world regions, for all countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and for DAC members on Official Development Aid.   

World regions: Analysing the implementation of MDGs for the aggregate Developing Regions showed that 8 indicators out of the selected 10 indicators were behind the lines to the 2015 targets for between 4.6 years and nearly 13 years, only two were ahead. The largest delays were for maternal mortality ratio and prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age; by regions in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia and Southern Asia. These recorded substantial delays in the implementation of MDGs should not overshadow the fact that progress has been made in all selected indicators and in all world regions, though in very different degrees. 

Sub-Saharan Africa by countries: for 8 indicators S-time-distance analysis was in 81 percent of cases behind the lines to target and 19 percent of cases ahead of them. The worst situation was for the indicator percent of the population undernourished. The percentage rule for determining the MDGs target understates the progress made in Africa and puts a much more demanding target in terms of feasibility to regions and countries with more difficult starting positions. 

Official Development Aid: tracking the timetable for reaching the UN target of 0.7 percent of GNI with time distance showed that the performance in 2009 was off the track: the delay of 4.6 years for DAC total. 

By seeing with new eyes of the time distance perspective new perceptions of the situation with broader conclusions can be reached with new development stories from existing MDG data at the world, country and local levels. SICENTER developed a free web tool to facilitate this for interested users. The time distance monitoring methodology can be usefully applied also in operational monitoring of implementatiton of plans, budgets, forecasts, projects, etc. at macro and micro levels.

S-time-distance shows that EU has lost 4 years of growth of GDP and employment
Wednesday, 30 June 2010

GDP and total employment in EU27 are at the 2006 levels

Growth rates of the respective magnitudes or indicators seems to be the prevailing
measure used by statistical offices, national and international organisations and media for
describing economic development over time. They need to be complemented by other easily
understandable statistical measures to facilitate the stakeholders to better understand the
situation in a broader framework.

Tables 2 and 3 offer two more statistical measures beyond growth rates that can additionally
describe the severity of the crisis related to levels of GDP and total employment for EU27
countries, United States and Japan: static index of fall from the peak level and S-time-
distance, which in this special declining phase indicates for how many years have the current
levels fallen back to levels already achieved earlier. Time distance analysis lead to a
summary statement that EU27 has in the current crisis lost 4 years of growth of GDP
and of total employment.

For 2010 it is expected that all EU countries except Poland will still be below their 2008
levels: from 1% to 22% according to one measure and falling back from 2.4 to 8 years
according to the time distance measure. USA are expected to return to its 2008 GDP level
while for Japan time distance would be 5 years. The time distance lag would be between 2
and 3 years for 5 EU countries, between 3 and 4 years 9 countries, between 4 and 5 years 7
countries and for 4 countries between 5 and 6 years. Mostly positive growth rates of GDP in
2010 were much too low to compensate for the fall in 2009.

Table 3 for total employment shows even a more difficult situation than for GDP even though
the fall of total employment in 2009 was -1.6 percent, i.e. less than for GDP of -4.2 percent.
In percentage terms total employment fell more in the USA, in EU and in Japan the fall
was similar. However, S-time-distance shows again a different picture. The time lag for the
USA is expected to be in 2010 about 6 years, for Japan about 21 years (USA level of total
employment is expected to be at their 2004 level and for Japan at their 1988 level), for the
EU27 about 4 years. The forecast for 2011 shows that for 7 EU countries total employment
would be shifted back to levels attained more than 10 years ago (before 2001). They are
Portugal and six earlier socialist economies (Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the
three Baltic members Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). Even in static terms total employment
fell for 5 countries (which include Ireland) between 9% and 19%.

S-time-distance measure adds a perspective that is easily understandable by everyone.
This additional time distance perspective can be a very useful tool for better
understanding of the situation needed for policy discussions among social partners
in difficult circumstances. Looking only at growth rates of GDP and employment
does not give a clear indication of the severity of the crisis to policy makers and to the
general public. 

The summary statement that EU27 has in the current crisis lost 4 years
of growth of GDP and of total employment needs to be complemented with diverse
situations in the countries. Also, the employment situation is shown to be even more
difficult than that with GDP. In the next paper we shall show that investment rate has
declined even more to affect the medium term possibilities of growth.

S-time-distance presentation at Eurostat
Sunday, 02 May 2010

S-time-distance method – A Novel Generic Statistical Measure Providing New Insights from Existing Data

Attached is the presentation of P. Sicherl at the Eurostat, March 2010 and at the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, April 2010

S-time-distance is a novel statistical measure providing new insights to many problems. Expressed in time units it is readily understood by policy makers, managers, media and general public, thus an excellent presentation and communication tool for policy analysis and debate.

Professor Sicherl first provides an outline on the time distance methodology. There is a number of examples of application topics provided based on Eurostat and some other international data.

A special attention is given to using the time distance method for graphical presentation of relevant statistical indicators.

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