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State fragility and economic vulnerability: what is measured and why?

Listed author(s):
  • Patrick Guillaumont

    (CERDI - Centre d'études et de recherches sur le developpement international - CNRS - Université d'Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand I)

  • Sylviane Guillaumont Jeanneney

    (CERDI - Centre d'études et de recherches sur le developpement international - CNRS - Université d'Auvergne - Clermont-Ferrand I)

State fragility is a concept that emerged among the international community of donors in order to adapt aid policies to particularly difficult situations. Fragility has thus been measured to design a special treatment in favour of fragile states, otherwise left behind. In this context, but somewhat paradoxically, fragility has been measured by a low policy and institutional assessment, operated through the “CPIA”, in the multilateral development banks that also used this index as the major indicator to determine their aid allocation. Some other more multidimensional measures have broadened the scope of the indicators used to identify fragility. All these measures appear to be rather subjective, unstable, leading to discordant lists of fragile states and not really representing a risk to fail. For analytical and operational reasons, there may be advantages of turning to the concept of structural economic vulnerability (apparently close, but strongly different). Structural economic vulnerability, the risk to be durably affected by exogenous shocks, depends both on the size of the shocks and on the exposure to the shocks. It can be measured by the Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), set up at the UN to identify the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It is a rather objective and stable index, also reflecting a risk of becoming a fragile state, as illustrated by the fact that most of the LDCs have been considered as fragile at least once. Such an index can be used as a positive criterion of aid allocation, besides the CPIA, a low income per capita and a low level of human capital. Its inclusion among aid allocation criteria is supported by equity, effectiveness and transparency reasons. It allows one to treat the case of fragile states in an integrated framework, leaving only the most acute cases of fragility or failure for an exceptional treatment.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number halshs-00554284.

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Date of creation: 10 Jan 2011
Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00554284
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00554284
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  1. Sylviane GUILLAUMONT JEANNENEY & Patrick GUILLAUMONT, 2006. "Big Push versus Absorptive Capacity: How to Reconcile the Two Approaches," Working Papers 200614, CERDI.
  2. Patrick Guillaumont, 2010. "Assessing the Economic Vulnerability of Small Island Developing States and the Least Developed Countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(5), pages 828-854.
  3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4354 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. P. Guillaumont & L. Chauvet, 2001. "Aid and Performance: A Reassessment," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(6), pages 66-92.
  5. Lisa Chauvet & Paul Collier, 2006. "Helping Hand ? Aid to Failing States," Working Papers DT/2006/14, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  6. McGillivray, Mark, 2006. "Aid Allocation and Fragile States," WIDER Working Paper Series DP2006/01, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  7. Vallings, Claire & Moreno-Torres, Magui, 2005. "Drivers Of Fragility: What Makes States Fragile?," PRDE Working Papers 12824, Department for International Development (DFID) (UK).
  8. Carment, David & Prest, Stewart & Samy, Yiagadeesen, 2008. "Determinants of State Fragility and Implications for Aid Allocation: An Assessment Based on the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy Project," WIDER Working Paper Series 046, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  9. Paul Collier & V. L. Elliott & Håvard Hegre & Anke Hoeffler & Marta Reynal-Querol & Nicholas Sambanis, 2003. "Breaking the Conflict Trap : Civil War and Development Policy," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13938, April.
  10. Baliamoune-Lutz, Mina N. & McGillivray, Mark, 2008. "State Fragility: Concept and Measurement," WIDER Working Paper Series 044, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  11. Patrick Guillaumont, 2007. "Aid Works Best in Vulnerable Countries," Post-Print hal-00192971, HAL.
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