State failure in the modern world by Zaryab Iqbal and Harvey Starr

By Zaryab Iqbal and Harvey Starr

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Operationalizing State Failure The central problem identified above is the issue of circularity in the conceptualization of state failure. We avoid this problem by limiting our study to states with completely collapsed central governments, turning to the POLITY IV data (for example, Marshall and Jaggers 2011) to identify such states. The POLITY IV data famously provides “autocracy” and “democracy” scores for all country-years in the data set, with an “anocracy” category for countries with mixed scores between autocracy and democracy.

We have selected a short list of key independent variables that are suggested by these studies and others to assess which factors affect the hazard of state failure. Specifically, we evaluate the influence of the type of governing institutions, states’ involvement in civil and international armed conflict, various levels of domestic political turmoil, and economic development on the likelihood of state failure. It is to these analyses we now turn. 3 Why Do States Collapse? Determinants of State Failure Introduction As discussed in the previous chapter, it is clear that while the issue of state failure is certainly an important one in the contemporary global system and of concern to policy-makers, IGOs, NGOs, and academics, there exist substantial problems in the study of failed states.

These periods are distinct from periods of instability and/or war during which a state’s governing institutions remain in place. Again, although instability or state weakness may be measured on a continuum, in our explicit conceptualization (and for our purposes) we view failure as an absolute, dichotomous condition; a state either fails or it doesn’t. Clearly, in our research we are treating state failure as an “end point condition,” as described above. We consider, therefore, only –77 countries to be failed.

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