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Measuring state capacity: Theoretical and empirical implications for the study of civil conflict

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  • Cullen S Hendrix

    () (Department of Political Science, University of North Texas; and Centre for the Study of Civil War, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO))

Abstract

This article identifies and addresses key conceptual and measurement issues raised by measures of state capacity in studies of civil conflict. First, it reviews competing definitions and operationalizations of state capacity, focusing specifically on those that emphasize (1) military capacity, (2) bureaucratic administrative capacity, and (3) the quality and coherence of political institutions. Second, it critically assesses these measures on the basis of construct validity, focusing attention on whether they accurately capture the theoretical concept of state capacity, and whether they allow the researcher to differentiate between competing causal mechanisms. Third, it employs principal factor analysis to identify the underlying dimensionality of 15 different operationalizations of state capacity. State capacity is characterized by low dimensionality, with three factors - or dimensions of state capacity -explaining over 90% of the variance in the 15 measures. While the first factor, rational legality, captures bureaucratic and administrative capacity, the second, rentier-autocraticness, and third, neopatrimoniality, capture aspects of state capacity that cut across theoretical categories. The article concludes by suggesting a multivariate approach to modeling state capacity, and that (1) survey measures of bureaucratic quality, and (2) tax capacity are the most theoretically and empirically justified.

Suggested Citation

  • Cullen S Hendrix, 2010. "Measuring state capacity: Theoretical and empirical implications for the study of civil conflict," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(3), pages 273-285, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:273-285
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    Cited by:

    1. Cingolani, Luciana & Thomsson, Kaj & de Crombrugghe, Denis, 2015. "Minding Weber More Than Ever? The Impacts of State Capacity and Bureaucratic Autonomy on Development Goals," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 191-207.
    2. Kotschy, Rainer & Sunde, Uwe, 2017. "Democracy, inequality, and institutional quality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 209-228.
    3. Andrei Melville & Mikhail Mironyuk & Denis Stukal, 2012. "Trajectories of Regime Transformation and Types of Stateness in Post-Communist Countries," HSE Working papers WP BRP 02/PS/2012, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    4. Grassi, Davide & Memoli, Vincenzo, 2016. "Political Determinants of State Capacity in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 94-106.
    5. Bodea, Cristina & Higashijima, Masaaki & Singh, Raju Jan, 2016. "Oil and Civil Conflict: Can Public Spending Have a Mitigation Effect?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Patrick Bayer & Johannes Urpelainen, 2013. "External sources of clean technology: Evidence from the Clean Development Mechanism," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 81-109, March.
    7. Silve, Arthur & Verdier, Thierry, 2017. "A theory of regional conflict complexes," CEPR Discussion Papers 11915, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Lang, J.C. & De Sterck, H., 2014. "The Arab Spring: A simple compartmental model for the dynamics of a revolution," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 12-21.
    9. K. Kivanç Karaman & Sevket Pamuk, 2011. "Different Paths to the Modern State in Europe: The interaction between domestic political economy and interstate competition," Europe in Question Discussion Paper Series of the London School of Economics (LEQs) 7, London School of Economics / European Institute.
    10. Knutsen, Carl Henrik, 2013. "Democracy, State Capacity, and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-18.
    11. Feger, Thuto & Asafu-Adjaye, John, 2014. "Tax effort performance in sub-Sahara Africa and the role of colonialism," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 163-174.
    12. Carbonetti, Benjamin & Pomeroy, Robert & Richards, David L., 2014. "Overcoming the lack of political will in small scale fisheries," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 295-301.
    13. Antonio Savoia & Kunal Sen, 2015. "Measurement, Evolution, Determinants, And Consequences Of State Capacity: A Review Of Recent Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(3), pages 441-458, July.
    14. Helge Holtermann, 2011. "Explaining the Development-Civil War Relationship," LIS Working papers 566, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    15. Joshi, Devin K. & Hughes, Barry B. & Sisk, Timothy D., 2015. "Improving Governance for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: Scenario Forecasting the Next 50years," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 286-302.
    16. Berliner, Daniel & Greenleaf, Anne & Lake, Milli & Noveck, Jennifer, 2015. "Building Capacity, Building Rights? State Capacity and Labor Rights in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 127-139.
    17. Jülide Yildirim & Nadir Öcal, 2016. "Military expenditures, economic growth and spatial spillovers," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 87-104, February.
    18. Daron Acemoglu & Suresh Naidu & Pascual Restrepo & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Democracy, Redistribution and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 19746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Broich, Tobias & Szirmai, Adam & Thomsson, Kaj, 2015. "Precolonial centralisation, foreign aid and modern state capacity in Africa," MERIT Working Papers 025, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    20. repec:gig:joupla:v:6:y:2014:i:1:p:3-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Tobias Böhmelt, 2013. "A closer look at the information provision rationale: Civil society participation in states’ delegations at the UNFCCC," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 55-80, March.

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