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Official development assistance alert for the UN MDG Summit
Wednesday, 01 September 2010

Time delays for official development assistance in 2009

Net official development assistance continues to be disappointing. S-time-distance measure was used to get an easily understandable overview of the situation whether the 22 DAC countries are on- or off- the track to the UN 2015 target of 0.7 percent of gross national income to be devoted to official development assistance (ODA/GNI). In 2009 in the group with considerable delays USA, Germany, Austria and Canada were between 4-6 years behind the line to the UN 2015 target, the delay was about 7 years for New Zealand and Italy, and 8 years for Australia. The delay for Portugal, Greece and Japan was more than 9 years as the 2009 percentage was even below that in the starting year 2000. 

While several of the analysed countries are not officially committed to this UN target such common benchmark shows that there is a wide gap between the development assistance efforts among the observed 22 countries. The ODA/GNI value in the five European countries that have already reached the 0.7 percent target is in relative terms four times higher than in the group of four countries (United States, Japan, Italy and Greece) where it does not exceed 0.2 percent of their GNI. It is clear that if there is a will there is a way.

Expressed in time units (years, months, etc.) the interpretation for monitoring with S-time-distance measure is easy and intuitively understandable to everyone. For given level of actual values it deals with the deviation (lead or lag in time) between the time when such actual value was attained and the time when that level was supposed to be reached on the line to the 2015 MDGs target. It is like tracking the actual arrivals in comparison with the train or bus timetable. Thus it represents an excellent presentation and communication tool that is intuitively understood by policy makers, experts, managers, media and the general public. 

The results are prepared using the free web GAPTIMER monitoring tool for calculation and graphing of S-time-distance deviations from the line to target that allows numerous stakeholders to benefit from this novel statistical measure for policy debate for many issues and at various levels.

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.

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