As the final workshop in the masters program in Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), a team of 4 students partnered with Impacto Social Consultores with the goal to make an index that would assess the effectiveness of state spending in relation to social outcomes. The input variables were disaggregated state spending (specifically spending in health; education; public safety; poverty eradication; infrastructure; and agriculture, livestock and fishing). The output variables would follow UNDP’s HDI (health, education and income) with an added component of public security that would be measured in percentage of reported crimes per population.
Whereas the traditional components of HDI are measured against a global minimum and maximum, the public safety component would be measured against a minimum and maximum specific to Mexico. Additionally, the model would control for certain demographics such as state population, women’s literacy, proportion of indigenous population, and degree of urbanization.
In Mexico, the SIPA team spoke with officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, National Commission of Security, CONEVAL, Prospera, UNDP, and other knowledgable, experienced professionals. They learned how complex it is to separate out some parts of state income that are provided by the federal government and are strictly earmarked, and the pots of money over which states have some discretion.
The interviewees provided useful advice and feedback. With pages and pages of notes, the team is now ready to keep working in New York. Over the next month, they will refine their model using the information gathered in the field trip. They have a lot of work ahead. ISC wishes them luck!