The effect of illicit financial flows on time to reach the fourth Millennium Development Goal in Sub-Saharan Africa: a quantitative analysis

J R Soc Med. 2014 Apr;107(4):148-56. doi: 10.1177/0141076813514575. Epub 2013 Dec 13.


Objectives: This paper sets out to estimate the cost of illicit financial flows (IFF) in terms of the amount of time it could take to reach the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in 34 African countries.

Design: We have calculated the percentage increase in gross domestic product (GDP) if IFFs were curtailed using IFF/GDP ratios. We applied the income (GDP) elasticity of child mortality to the increase in GDP to estimate the reduction in time to reach the fourth MDG in 34 African countries.

Participants: children aged under five years.

Settings: 34 countries in SSA.

Main outcome measures: Reduction in time to reach the first indicator of the fourth MDG, under-five mortality rate in the absence of IFF.

Results: We found that in the 34 SSA countries, six countries will achieve their fourth MDG target at the current rates of decline. In the absence of IFF, 16 countries would reach their fourth MDG target by 2015 and there would be large reductions for all other countries.

Conclusions: This drain on development is facilitated by financial secrecy in other jurisdictions. Rich and poor countries alike must stem the haemorrhage of IFF by taking decisive steps towards improving financial transparency.

Keywords: child mortality; illicit financial flows; millennium development goals.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Child Mortality*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime / economics*
  • Developing Countries / economics*
  • Female
  • Global Health / economics*
  • Goals*
  • Gross Domestic Product*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Infant
  • Male