Measuring distance to the SDG targets – Chile

Chile has already achieved 18 of the 116 SDG targets for which comparable data are available and, based on most recent trends, it is expected to meet 4 additional targets by 2030 (Figure 1). As virtually all OECD countries, Chile has already met (or is close to meeting) most targets related to securing basic needs and implementing the policy tools and frameworks mentioned in the 2030 Agenda (see details in Table 1). The transboundary impact of Chile is also rather positive. Yet, challenges remain. Among others, education outcomes appears to be low while inequality remains high.

This country profile provides a high-level overview of some of Chile’s strengths and challenges in performance across the SDG targets. As such, it differs in nature from Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) or other reporting processes. To ensure international comparability, this assessment builds on the global indicator framework and relies on data sourced from the SDG Global Database and OECD databases. VNRs typically use national indicators that reflect national circumstances and are more up-to-date (See the section How to read this country profile that provides some methodological details on country profiles).

As most OECD countries, Chile has already met most targets on securing decent living standards for its population. Chile’s distance is nil or very small (and likely to be nil by 2030) when it comes to eradicating extreme poverty (Target 1.1) and hunger – but food insecurity remains (Target 2.1). Chile also provides access to some basic services including sanitation (Targets 1.4 and 6.2), freshwater (Target 6.1) and energy (Target 7.1). While Chile is still slightly below the OECD average, it has reduced maternal and infant mortality (Targets 3.1 and 3.2), provides access to early childhood education for a vast majority of kids (Target 4.2), and has developed key statistical capacities (Targets 17.18 and 17.19).

The transboundary impact of Chile is rather positive. In 2017, Chile graduated from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of eligible countries to receive official development assistance (ODA). Chile is increasing its development co-operation partnerships in line with its new status as a high-income country; while not being a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, Chile is an important actor in South-South Co-operation. Chile is also one of the few OECD countries that has unlocked the full potential of migrants’ remittances by eliminating remittance corridors with costs higher than 5% (Target 10.c). In terms of trade flows, Chile is among the best performing OECD countries on Target 10.a on special and differential treatment for developing countries, applying duty-free treatment to 76% of its tariff lines in 2019. In terms of movement of people, Chile has reached Target 10.7 on migration policies facilitating safe and orderly migration. Yet, in terms of environmental flows, despite good performances on protected areas (Targets 14.5 and 15.1) and the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy (Goal 7), pressures on human health, the environment and biodiversity remain. Chile’s economy is among the OECD’s most resource-intensive (Targets 8.4 and 12.2) and most of the municipal waste ends up in landfills and incinerators (Targets 11.6 and 12.5).

Education outcomes are low. While participation and completion rates are around the OECD average (Targets 4.1 and 4.2), at the end of primary schooling more than 20% of students lack a minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics. At the end of lower secondary education, the share of students lacking minimum proficiency is 32% in reading, and exceeds 50% in mathematics (Target 4.1). Also, only a third of adults achieve such minimum proficiency in functional numeracy skills and literacy (Target 4.6). Differences in socio-economic background, gender, immigration status and location explain a large share of these disparities in education outcomes (Target 4.5). While 87% of teachers received in-service training in the past 12 months, this rate is well below the OECD average (Target 4.c).

Addressing unequal opportunities for vulnerable populations and women requires further efforts. There is scope to improve the legal framework that aims at fostering gender equality (Targets 5.1 and 5.3). Women are underrepresented in both public and private spheres (Target 5.5) – only around one quarter of seats in national parliament are held by women – and they take on a much greater share of unpaid care and housework (Target 5.4). Beyond gender disparities, Chile reports one of the highest levels of income poverty and inequality of the OECD area (Targets 1.2 and 10.2). High inequalities reflect some persistent challenges of the labour market – the unemployment rate is almost 4 points higher than the OECD average (Target 8.5) and one in five young adult is not in employment, education nor training (Target 8.6) – but also to the weak redistribution through taxes and transfers (Target 10.4) and long-standing gaps in the social protection system (Target 1.3).

Some risk factors to health are very high in Chile. Chile appears to have a mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease lower than in many OECD countries (Target 3.4). Still, tobacco consumption is well above the OECD average (Target 3.a) and obesity is one of the highest of the OECD (Target 2.2). In addition, food insecurity (Target 2.2), poor air quality (Targets 3.9 and 11.6) and traffic injuries weigh heavily on health outcomes while around 15% of the population report large household expenditures on health (Target 3.6).

Chile is also far from meeting several targets of the Peace category. While direct measures of violence such as deaths due to intentional homicide or assaults are in line with the OECD average, perception-based measures indicate that only 40% of the population feel safe when walking alone at night in the area where they live (Target 16.1). In addition, the indicators underpinning Target 16.3 on the rule of law shows that there is room for improvement: one in three detainees are unsentenced and the World Justice Project index of civil justice is below the OECD average. Perception-based data also suggest that only 15% of Chilean citizens report having confidence in the judicial system (Target 16.6). In addition, the diversity of both central government workforce and of members of parliaments (Target 16.7) is limited.

Like in many other OECD countries, data availability remains a challenge when measuring distances to targets (see the Overview chapter for details). For Chile, available data on the level of the different indicators allow covering 116 of the 169 targets. As shown in Figure 2 below, indicator coverage is uneven across the 17 goals. While only three goals (Goals 1 on poverty, 3 on health and 10 on inequalities) have most of their targets covered (the indicator coverage exceeds 80%), coverage is much lower for Goal 13 on climate action and Goal 17 on partnerships with only half or fewer of their targets covered. Data gaps become starker when focusing on performance indicators, excluding those providing contextual information. In this case, coverage exceeds 80% for two goals only, i.e. Goals 3 on health and 10 on inequalities. Moreover, for eight goals, mostly within the Planet category (Goals 6, 12, 13 and 14) but also in Goals 4 on education, 5 on gender equality, 11 on cities and 17 on partnerships, data are lacking to monitor progress over time for more than two in three targets.

While some SDG Targets are, on average, close to being met, performance is very uneven across the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Table 1 presents an overview of Chile’s progress towards targets based on available data for each of the 17 Goals. It shows that distances to Targets and trends over time differ significantly even when considering a specific goal.

The OECD report The Short and Winding Road to 2030: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets evaluates the distance that OECD countries need to travel to meet SDG targets for which data are currently available. It also looks at whether countries have been moving towards or away from these targets, and how likely they are to meet their commitments by 2030, based on an analysis of recent trends and the observed volatility in the different indicators.

As most authors and international organisations, this report adopts a rather simple geometric growth model for assessing the direction and pace of recent changes in the context of the SDGs. Yet, instead of making direct estimates of the value of the indicator by 2030, it models the likelihood of achieving a specific level using Monte Carlo simulations.

While the report provides an overview of where OECD countries, taken as a whole, currently stand, country profiles provide details of the performance and data availability of individual OECD countries.

Progress on SDGs requires a granular understanding of countries’ strengths and weaknesses based on the consideration of the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda. Figure 1 shows both current achievements (in the inner circle; the longer the bar, the smaller the distance remaining to be travelled) as well as whether OECD countries are on track (or are at least making progress) to meet their commitments by 2030 (in the outer circle).

The length of each bar shows current level of achievement on each target. As detailed in the Methodological Annex, countries’ distance to target is measured as the “standardised difference” between a country’s current position and the target end-value. For each indicator, the standardised measurement unit (s.u.) is the standard deviation observed among OECD countries in the reference year (i.e. the year closest to 2015). Therefore, the longer the bar, the shorter the distance still to be travelled to reach the target by 2030. The colours of the bars applied to the various targets refer to the goals they pertain to.

The outer ring shows how OECD countries are performing over time and how likely they are to meet the different targets by 2030 based on the observed trends of the various indicators. It uses stoplight colours to classify the progress towards the target:

  • green is used to indicate those countries that (based on the change in the different indicators over a recent period) should meet the target in 2030 just by maintaining their current pace of progress (i.e. more than 75% of (randomised) projections meet the target);

  • yellow for those countries whose current pace of progress is insufficient to meet the target by 2030 (i.e. less than 75% of randomised projections meet the target, while the correlation coefficient between the indicator and the year is high and statistically significant, implying that a significant trend could be detected); and

  • red for those countries whose recent changes have been stagnating or moving them further away from the target (i.e. less than 75% of randomised projections meet the target and the correlation coefficient between the indicator and the year is low or statistically insignificant, implying that no statistical trend could be identified).

With the aim of helping its member countries in navigating the 2030 Agenda and in setting their own priorities for action, this report relies on a unique methodology for measuring the distance that OECD countries have to travel to achieve SDG targets. The identification of the main strengths and challenges proposed in this report relies on current performances only:

  • A target is considered to be a strength when the distance to the target end-value is lower than 0.5 s.u. (i.e. the distance is deemed to be small) or when the country is closer to the target than the OECD average. For instance, while Korea's distance to Target 2.2 on malnutrition is 1.4 s.u. (i.e. classified as medium distance), the average OECD distance is 2.5 s.u. Therefore, Target 2.2 is categorised as being a strength for Korea.

  • A target is considered to be a challenge when the distance to target is greater than 1.5 s.u. (i.e. distance is deemed to be long) or when the country is further away from the target than the OECD average. For instance, Estonia's distance to Target 4.2 on pre-primary education is 1.1 s.u. (i.e. medium distance), which is higher than the 0.24 s.u. distance for the OECD average. Target 4.2 is therefore classified as a weakness for Estonia.

While the lack of consistent time series often prevents an exhaustive assessment of trends, they are discussed when available and relevant in nuancing the assessment of current performance.

In total, this report relies on 537 data series supporting 183 of the 247 indicators listed in the global indicator framework (or for close proxies of these indicators). These indicators cover 134 of the 169 SDG targets. Yet, target coverage is uneven across the 17 goals and among OECD member countries.

Figure 2 summarises data availability:

  • darker blue bars indicate the share of targets for which at least one indicator (including indicators providing context information) is available

  • lighter blue bars indicate the share of targets for which the available indicator(s) include those having a clear normative direction (i.e. allowing to distinguish between good and bad performance), which are the only ones used to measure distances to target levels.

  • medium blue bars indicate the share of targets for which progress over time can be gauged (i.e. at least three observations are available over a five-year period).

All methods and concepts are further detailed in the Methodological Annex.

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