In 2000, the United Nations (UN) announced a far-reaching, 15-year objective for human betterment: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Aptly named for their inception date, the MDGs were to improve humankind's socioeconomic and environmental conditions, especially in developing countries.
There were eight broad MDGs. The majority dealt with socioeconomic issues such as poverty rates, maternal health, infant mortality, educational participation, gender equality, and health. The others focused on environmental and development infrastructure matters. Each of the MDGs had one or more specific Targets; each Target had one or more Indicators. The 60 Indicators set metrics for assessing progress, such as infant mortality rates or gender ratios in school attendance.
The MDGs and their specific Indicators were ambitious, with standards that, if met, would represent significant, even startling, progress. This was even more the case because the actual development programs were not solely the work of UN agencies or developed countries, but also depended on the work of governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the developing countries themselves.
Measuring the MDGs
The outcomes of the MDGs are presented in the MDG Indicators database (mdgs.un.org). It is produced by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on MDG Indicators, which is coordinated by the United Nations Statistics Division. The database reports annual progress on MDG Indicators for 237 countries and 14 regions.
One or more Indicators can be selected and correlated with one or more countries or regions. Annual data are displayed from as early as 1990 to the latest available date. Results (and the entire MDG dataset) can be downloaded in Excel, XML, and CSV formats. There is also a basic keyword search (which could be improved with the ability to limit to specific record fields). The...