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Fragility and MDG Progress: How useful is the Fragility Concept?


  • Kenneth Harttgen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

  • Stephan Klasen

    (Georg-August-University Göttingen)


While it is widely presumed that development progress in so-called fragile states is lagging behind, only very limited empirical analysis exists that investigates to what extent the levels and trends in the MDGs differ significantly between fragile and other developing countries, and between different de-finitions of fragile states. The purpose of this paper is to analyze levels and progress of the MDGs between 1990 and 2008 of fragile and non-fragile developing countries. It shows that fragile countries are, indeed, performing worse in terms of MDG levels. In terms of MDG progress, progress is, on average, not slower in fragile states using most definitions of fragility. Lastly, the heterogeneity of MDG performance among fragile states is so large that it is not very useful to treat them as a group; the problems they face, as well as the solutions required, differ greatly and have to be developed and treated sui generis.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Harttgen & Stephan Klasen, 2010. "Fragility and MDG Progress: How useful is the Fragility Concept?," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 41, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:gotcrc:041

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon Feeny & Mark McGillivray, 2009. "Aid allocation to fragile states: Absorptive capacity constraints," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 618-632.
    2. Easterly, William, 2009. "How the Millennium Development Goals are Unfair to Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 26-35, January.
    3. World Bank, 2007. "World Development Indicators 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8150.
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    Cited by:

    1. Boris Branisa & Carolina Cardona, 2015. "Social Institutions and Gender Inequality in Fragile States: Are They Relevant for the Post-MDG Debate?," Southern Voice Occasional Paper 21, Southern Voice.
    2. Franklin Allen and Giorgia Giovannetti, 2010. "Fragile Countries And The 2008-2009 Crisis," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 13, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    3. Sumner, Andy, 2012. "Where Do The Poor Live?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 865-877.
    4. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Remy Bolito-Losembe, 2014. "Corruption et Etats fragiles africains," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 26(1), pages 50-58.
    5. Go, Delfin S. & Quijada, Jose Alejandro, 2011. "Assessing the odds of achieving the MDGs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5825, The World Bank.
    6. Sumner, Andy, 2013. "Global Poverty, Aid, and Middle-Income Countries: Are the Country Classifications Moribund or is Global Poverty in the Process of 'Nationalizing'?," WIDER Working Paper Series 062, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    Fragile States; MDGs; Growth;

    JEL classification:

    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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