State Fragility: Concept and Measurement

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The international donor community has grave concerns about the prospects for poverty reduction in what it terms 'fragile states'. A state is classified as fragile if its country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA) score falls below a particular threshold. Recognizing that all states are fragile to varying degrees, this chapter questions the method used by the international community to deem a country fragile. This chapter develops a framework that uses fuzzy-set theory to deem a country as 'fragile'. Fuzzy sets allow for gradual transition from one state to another while also allowing one to incorporate rules and goals, and hence are more appropriate for measuring outcomes that are ambiguous. Such ambiguity is an inherent characteristic of cross-country fragility classifications. The chapter applies its framework to 76 low-income countries, for which the CPIA data are publicly available. The fragile state group that this framework provides is compared to that which the international donor community has constructed.

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Fragile States: Causes, Costs, and Responses

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