What are the Self-Reliance Metrics?

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The first step in better-supporting countries along their respective journeys to self-reliance is being able to understand where in the journey they are in the first place. This is the central goal of the self-reliance metrics effort.

Since September 2017, the Agency has coordinated a team of data and policy experts to identify the best-available metrics that measure the core aspects of Commitment and Capacity, and when aggregated, overall self-reliance. On the “Commitment” side, the team looked for indicators that measure a country’s level of open and accountable government, commitment to inclusive development, and economic policy choices. On the “Capacity” side, the team looked for indicators that assess a country’s overall level of capacity across government, civil society, the citizenry, and the economy.

Potential metrics were identified and refined through a consultative process with USAID employees in Washington and overseas, and with core external partners and stakeholders. Close to 200 metrics were assessed against the following criteria:

  • Wide country coverage;
  • Relevance to the concept;
  • Third-party, publicly-available data provided by a variety of sources;
  • Sound, transparent methodology;
  • Actionable and evidence-based;
  • Applicability across countries; and,
  • Consistency from year-to-year.

Ultimately, the team settled on the following 17 metrics, and we are currently in the process of finalizing them for use:

The Primary Self-Reliance Metrics

Review of Primary Metrics

All indicators are from well-known, third-party institutions, and are publicly available. Many are based on a compilation of sub-indicators, which will allow us to better-understand factors driving performance. Finally, no indicator is perfect. Data gaps and lags will always be a challenge, and tradeoffs are inevitable. As a result, USAID will continually reassess and revise its metrics choices as appropriate.

In addition, the metrics are not meant to be used as a standalone tool -- supplemental information will always complement the metrics to ensure a country’s full self-reliance picture comes into focus.


Open and Accountable Governance

  • Liberal Democracy Index, V-Dem Institute. Measures freedom of expression, freedom of association, suffrage, elections, rule of law, judicial constraints on the executive branch, and legislative constraints on the executive branch. (This indicator will be referred to as “Liberal Democracy” in the forthcoming Country Roadmaps.)
  • Open Government Factor, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, World Justice Project. Measures open government defined as a government that shares information, empowers people with tools to hold the government accountable, and fosters citizen participation in public policy deliberations. Sub-factors include publicized laws and government data, right to information, civic participation, and complaint mechanisms. (This indicator will be referred to as “Open Government” in the forthcoming Country Roadmaps.)

Inclusive Development

  • Economic Gender Gap Component, Global Gender Gap Report, World Economic Forum. Measures the gender difference in economic participation and opportunity. Comprised of five components: (1) wage equality between women and men for similar work; (2) the ratio of female estimated earned income to male income; (3) the ratio of female labor force participation to male participation; (4) the ratio of female legislators, senior officials, and managers to male counterparts; and (5) the ratio of female professional and technical workers to male counterparts. (This indicator will be referred to as “Economic Gender Gap” in the forthcoming Country Roadmaps.)
  • Social Group Equality in Respect for Civil Liberties, V-Dem Institute. Measures the extent to which all social groups as distinguished by language, ethnicity, religion, race, region, or caste, enjoy the same level of civil liberties. Civil liberties are understood to include access to justice, private property rights, freedom of movement, and freedom from forced labor. (This indicator will be referred to as “Social Group Equality” in the forthcoming Country Roadmaps.)

Economic Policy


Capacity of the Government

Capacity of Civil Society

  • Diagonal Accountability Index, V-Dem Institute. Measures the range of actions and mechanisms that citizens, civil society organizations, and an independent media can use to hold the government accountable. The mechanisms include using informal tools such as social mobilization and investigative journalism to enhance vertical and horizontal accountability. (This indicator will be referred to as “Civil Society and Media Effectiveness” in the forthcoming Country Roadmaps.)

Capacity of Citizens

Capacity of the Economy

Last updated: August 07, 2018

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