Indicators for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals

This publication contains complete and authoritative information on the concepts, definitions, implementation and sources of data for the 48 official Millennium Development Goals (MDG) indicators.

Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, more recent publications of this document can be purchased from the resource section United Nations Development Program (UNDP) website.

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The handbook provides guidance on the definitions, rationale, concepts and sources of data for each of the 48 indicators that are being used to monitor the goals and targets. It expands on an earlier exercise to provide the metadata for the socio-economic indicators that make up the United Nations Common Country Assessment Indicator Framework. The indicators for goals 1–7 are a subset of that framework.

For each indicator this handbook provides a simple operational definition, the rationale for the indicator's selection, the option of computation, sources of data, references including Internet sites for data and methodologies, limitations and notes on gender issues and national and international agencies concerned with each topic.


"The intention is not to provide an exhaustive amount of information for each item, but to provide a reference point and guidance for country teams and national stakeholders. The amount of information varies by indicator and tends to reflect the extent of national and international debate on its relevance. Limited information is available for some of the less well-established indicators. With further use of the indicators and greater recognition of the need for such data, fuller information is expected to become available." (UNDP 2003 p2)


UNDP (2003), Indicators for Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals. Definitions, Rationale, Concepts and Sources, New York USA, United Nations. Retrieved from

'Indicators for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals' is referenced in: