This article reviews the effectiveness and efficiency of key policy instruments for MDG (Millennium Development Goals) achievement, focusing on the role of demand- and supply-side factors in education and health-service utilisation. It comes to the following conclusions. First, specific policy interventions can have a considerable impact on social-service utilisation. Second, demand-side policies have proved extremely effective in the education sector, but may need more consideration in the health sector. Third, policy effectiveness and efficiency are highly dependent on initial conditions and the specificities of the respective policy. Fourth, complementarities between MDG targets are likely to be very important.