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Failed States Index

Producer: 

The Fund for Peace

Stated Purpose: 

The index assesses the pressures experienced by nations based on social, economic, and political indicators such as demographic pressures, refugee flows, uneven economic development or severe economic decline, and human rights, among others. This is done to measure the stability and vulnerability of selected states, to give early warnings of possible failing states to policy actors. 

Area of Governance: 
Conflict
Funding Source: 

The Fund for Peace

Current usage: 

Used for the annually Failed States Index Book, and quoted in international media.

Type of data used: 

The Fund for Peace uses data from 115,000 online English-language publications worldwide, such as, digitized news articles, essays, magazine pieces, speeches, and government and non-government reports (blogs, twitter, or other social media are not used in the creation of the index), and quantitative data from reputable institutions, such as the UNHCR, WHO, UNDP, Transparency International, World Factbook, Freedom House, World Bank, and other reliable sources.

Coverage: 

Country Coverage: 178 countries, up from 146 in 2006 and 75 in 2005.  (Only includes recognized sovereign states based on UN-membership)
Year Coverage: 2005 - present (updated annually)

Contact details: 

The Fund for Peace
1720  Street NW,
7th Floor Washington,
D.C. 20006
United States of America
Tel: 1 888 826 9399 (Toll-Free)
Tel: 1 202 223 7940
E: admin@fundforpeace.org

Methodology: 

Twelve indicators  of state vulnerability and stability, divided into three sub-groups, are used to determine a selected country's ranking on the index:
Social Indicators  
1.  Mounting Demographic Pressures
2.  Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons  
3.  Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia  
4.  Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic Indicators  
5.  Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines  
6.  Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline  

Political and Military Indicators  
7.  Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State  
8.  Progressive Deterioration of Public Services  
9.  Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Human Rights Abuse  
10. Security Apparatus Operates as a "State Within a State"  
11. Rise of Factionalized Elites  
12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors

The construction of the index consists  of serveral of steps:

First, the downloaded news articles, essays, magazine pieces, speeches, and government and non-government reports are exposed to a content analysis software to scan the documents using Boolean phrases on indicators within the Fund for Peace CAST framework.This is done to filter for irrelevant or erroneous documents.

Second,  quantitative data from reputable institutions, such as the UNHCR, WHO, UNDP, Transparency International, World Factbook, Freedom House, World Bank, and other reliable sources are incorporated.  

Third, the results are compared with insights from a separate qualitative review of each indicator for each country.  

Taken together, the three methods serve as internal checks.  Aggregated data are normalized and scaled from 0-10 to obtain final scores for 12 social, economic and political/military indicators for 177 countries. These results are then critically reviewed by analysts different from those who conducted the original research. 

Format of results: 

Each Indicator is rated on a 1 to 10 scale with 1 (low) being the most stable and 10 (high) being the most at-risk of collapse and violence, thus with 12 indicators the maximum score is 120 and the minimum 12.

Valid Use: 

Can be use it as a policy tool to promote improvements by governments and NGOs. 

Invalid Use: 

The index focuses exclusively on the most negative aspects of a state's performance and some of the criteria are quite subjective/perception based ("delegitimisation of the state", "group grievance").The index solely measures the symptoms and not the cause.

Assumption: 

The index ranks states in a way that suggests they are in every way comparable, though it is possible that the cause of the 'unhappiness' may vary from state to state.

Example results: 

An example from the 2012 Failed States Index