Measuring the SDGs Progress with Data Envelope Analysis

How do you gauge the accomplishments of policy and its failures? While a number of nations are successful in maximizing a socioeconomic welfare function, others are woefully falling short of the optimal frontier. Considering the large number of SDGs and development targets, the accomplishments and failures of nations and their policy performance will always be multidimensional. Once we have agreed on a single measure of such progress, it becomes possible to document numerically how policymakers succeed (or fail) in achieving their goals and communicate them politically.

Data envelopment analysis (DEA), codeveloped by Abraham Charnes and William Cooper in 1978, is ideally suited for the purpose, delivering a metric that evaluates the performance of Decision Making Units DMUs(nations, regions, cities, enterprises, banks, schools, etc.) according to their ability to use inputs, and marshal economic and social policy to attain a spectrum of desired goals. We propose a DEA framework to assess an empirical production function and to serve as an interactive-iterative policy evaluation system for monitoring the multi-dimensional progress various nations make towards
achievement of the SDGs.

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