Publication - Research and analysis

International Development - national indicator development: research report

Published: 6 Nov 2020

The report outlines the research commissioned for the development of the indicator ‘Contribution of development support to other nations’ that forms part of the National Outcome ‘We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally’ in the refreshed National Performance Framework

87 page PDF

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87 page PDF

1.2 MB

International Development - national indicator development: research report
Annex B: Review of the Commitment to Development Index (CDI)

87 page PDF

1.2 MB

Annex B: Review of the Commitment to Development Index (CDI)


It should be stressed at the outset that this review is simply in terms of the extent to which the long-standing benchmark Commitment to Development Index (or a subset of indicators) is suited to being indicators of Scotland's contribution to international development.

The CDI was originally established in 2003 and has been updated regularly since with some revisions to the methodology meaning that not all years are directly comparable.

While it is clearly possible to track the change in the CDI over time, the real strength of the CDI measure is that it applies a consistent methodology to the international development activities of a number of countries so that their contributions can be viewed comparatively.

Description of CDI structure and purpose

The CDI is a composite index constructed from seven components - Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security and Migration. Each component is made up of sub-components and the sub-components are in turn a composite of individual indicators. A full list of indicators in included in table B.1 and B,2 below .

The index builds up a score for each country from the composite of these indicators so that a score is available for the country's contribution to development overall, at component level and at indicator level. There are two types of scores: raw scores and standardised scores:

  • Raw scores are simply the measure of a subcomponent or indicator in the original measurement terms (e.g. percent carbon emissions reduction over 10 years, dollar value public research subsidies, refugees per capita, etc.). But given that these scores are made on very different scales, standardising is necessary to enable comparison across indicators and calculation of performance and ranking.
  • Each country's raw score is then standardised as a Z score, with a mean of 5 and standard deviation of 1 (so the vast majority of scores are between 3 and 7). Some indicators' scores are standardised negatively, which means a lower raw score translates into a higher standardised score. This is true of negative factors such as arms exports or greenhouse gas emissions.

Table B.1 CGD CDI structure

Component: Aid


  • Quantity (50%)
  • Quality (50%)

Component: Finance


  • Investment (50%)
  • Financial secrecy (50%)

Component: Technology


  • Government support to R&D (66%)
  • Intellectual Property Rights (33%)

Component: Environment


  • Global climate (60%)
  • Sustainable fisheries (10%)
  • Biodiversity and global ecosystems (30%)

Component: Trade


  • Lower income weighted tariffs (40%)
  • Agricultural subsidies (10%)
  • Services Trade Restrictions (25%)
  • Logistics Performance (25%)

Component: Security


  • Contributions to peacekeeping (55%)
  • Arms exports (15%)
  • Participation in security regimes (30%)

Component: Migration


  • International conventions (10%)
  • Integration policies (25%)
  • Share of asylum seekers (10%)
  • Share of refugees (10%)
  • Foreign students (15%)
  • Immigrant inflow (30%)

Each sub-component and within each sub-component each indicator is given a weight. The intention is to weight indicators according to the evidence, and CGDs judgement, on their contribution to development. In practice, the CDI designers chose to weight some indicators more than others. The weights are backed by many years of expertise and experience in the relevant fields:

  • At the top level of the CDI hierarchy, the components are equally weighted (each represents 14.29%) i.e. CDI do not weigh the environment or trade more highly than say migration based on their perceived relative importance.
  • CGD do, however, weight the main component by the inverse of the standard deviations: this has the effect of giving less weight to those components with high variance so that outliers do not dominate the index.[34]

It is worth noting that as the CDI reports themselves acknowledge, the application of these weights and adjustments is where the index receives most challenge. The decision to dampen any high variation at component level is one that has provoked many challenges.

These choices have been made to ensure that the index provides a stable measure of differences between countries (and presumably cut down the 'noise' in some indicators). The question for this assignment is not whether they are technically justified but whether they fit with Scotland's priorities for international development.[35] The details of the weightings are included in this Annex.

Fit with Scotland's Devolved Policy Matters

The degree to which Scotland currently has devolved responsibility for the policy domains in the CDI provides the strongest binding constraint on the CDI as an index to represent Scottish policy impact. Three of the CDI components cover policy areas that are wholly reserved (Finance, Trade - with the exception of agriculture - and Security) and only in the Environment component does Scotland have a majority of devolved responsibility but even here each sub-component contains a Treaty ratification indicator that remains a reserved matter for the UK Government. (See Annex A for a list of currently devolved and reserved policy matters).

Table B.2 shows that the Scottish Government has devolved power in relation to at most 36% of the CDI weighted indicators. Although this proportion is dependent on allocating the whole of some sub-components where we believe some policy aspects are devolved, they probably represent a minority of activity in these categories but we have no basis on which to sub-divide the weights for these indicators. For example, Scotland is responsible for the policies around welcoming migrants to Scotland but currently has no control over the criteria used to determine the number of migrants settled and the conditions under which this is permitted, such as the regulations relating to their ability to work while they await any applications to stay.

While this means that the CDI as a whole would more often reflect the position of the UK rather than that of Scotland, this does not mean that individual indicators cannot play a role in the final set chosen for the NPF.

Does CDI cover the policy themes?

Of the five policy areas selected to explore indicators for Scotland's contribution to international development, CDI indicators provide coverage of just the Climate Change theme.

Application of equalities legislation

No indicators directly measuring impacts of equalities legislation on social and economic wellbeing of equalities groups.

Climate change

Indicators for Greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable fisheries and biodiversity but no measures relating to how Scotland might help countries with mitigation and adaptation measures based on renewables and work of the Just Transition Commission in ameliorating the impacts of adjustments to a net zero carbon target.

Determinants of health

No indicators relating to the potential contribution to health improvement. This could include sanitation and water management as well as training in preventative health and other medical training.


No indicators relating to rule of commercial and contract law and arbitration that might play a role in trade. Scotland has also developed a Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy to improve how to identify and support victims, deal with the causes of trafficking and exploitation, and punish perpetrators.


No component/ sub-component of CDI relates to education. The migration component does include an indicator relating to the share of foreign students from lower income countries as a proportion of non-domestic students.

Table B.2: Overview of weightings across all sub-components
Sub-Component Sub component weighting adjusted weighting based on each component 14% of total type of measure SG devolved power l % devolved
Aid Quantity (50%) 50% 7.14% spend - overseas no 0.00%
Aid Quality (50%) 50% 7.14% mixed yes 7.14%
Finance - investment (50%) 50% 7.14% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Finance - financial secrecy (50%) 50% 7.14% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Technology - government support to R&D (66%) 67% 9.52% spend - domestic Partial 9.52%
Technology - IPR (33%) 33% 4.76% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Environment - global climate (60%) 60% 8.57% production and emissions yes 8.57%
Environment - sustainable fisheries (10%) 10% 1.43% policy and or regulation yes 1.43%
Environment - biodiversity and global ecosystems (30%) 30% 4.29% policy and or regulation yes 4.29%
Trade - Lower income weighted tariffs (40%) 40% 5.71% tariffs and subsidies no 0.00%
Trade - Agricultural subsidies (10%) 10% 1.43% tariffs and subsidies yes 1.43%
Trade - Services Trade Restrictions (25%) 25% 3.57% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Trade - Logistics Performance (25%) 25% 3.57% infrastructure no 0.00%
Security - contributions to peacekeeping (55%) 55% 7.86% spend - overseas no 0.00%
Security - arms exports (15%) 15% 2.14% exports no 0.00%
Security - participation in security regimes (30%) 30% 4.29% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Migration - international conventions (10%) 10% 1.43% policy and or regulation no 0.00%
Migration - Integration policies (25%) 25% 3.57% policy and or regulation Yes partial 3.57%
Migration - Share of asylum seekers (10%) 10% 1.43% migrants and asylum seekers no 0.00%
Migration - Share of refugees (10%) 10% 1.43% migrants and asylum seekers no 0.00%
Migration - Foreign students (15%) 15% 2.14% migrants and asylum seekers yes 2.14%
Migration - Immigrant inflow (30%) 30% 4.29% migrants and asylum seekers no 0.00%
100.00% 38.09%