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Fragile States Index: Data-Driven Collapse


Fragile States Index
The Fragile States Index landing page

In our world, there is constant change in society. Massive corruption, social issues, civil wars. What if it was possible to absorb all of this information and quantify it as a numerical value? Fortunately, it's already been done for the past 15 years by an organization known as The Fund for Peace who has created the Fragile States Index.


Visit the Fragile States Index here: https://fragilestatesindex.org/country-data/


Fragile States Index: Lower Numbers and Rankings Are Better

What is it and how do they do it?

Every year, the Fragile States Index analyzes an enormous amount of content, up to 50 million articles in what they call the Content Analysis phase. During this phase, articles are checked for pertinence then placed into a particular sub-category for each nation. The sub-categories are then scored and added together to create the index or overall score.


The next phase is known as the Quantitative Analysis phase, where they take data sets from international organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, and the United Nations, and compare the results to the Content Analysis phase and move forward if data agrees.


Once the data agrees or is reconciled, a team of social scientists reviews all 178 nations individually and compares the data from previous years to weed out any false positives or negatives and ensure the data produced for each country is statistically sound.


While this data is a best-guess estimate, it is incredibly useful for policymakers and world leaders to understand where each country is positioned to make decisions.


Earlier I mentioned that everything is broken down into sub-categories then combined to make an overall index score. What are those sub-categories?

  • Security Apparatus (Threats to the state both internal and external)

  • Factionalized Elites (Political competition, power struggles, political transitions, etc)

  • Group Grievance (Clear, distinguished differences among social or political groups)

  • Economic Decline and Poverty

  • Uneven Development (Inequality)

  • Human Flight and Brain Drain (Impact of people oppressed or displaced from their countries)

  • State Legitimacy

  • Public Services

  • Human Rights and Rule of Law

  • Demographic Pressures

  • Refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons and how they're treated)

  • External Intervention (Typically countries requiring U.N. security or other nation's security forces)

What's great about the Fragile States Index is the ability to look at the past and present based on historical data, and the future based on data trends. You can view the entire world, compare nations against each other, and sort the categories individually to see where countries rank in relation to one another.


The United States: Trending Downward

Lately, the United States has felt very tense and on the verge of collapse. The Fragile States Index gives us the ability to assess the country with numerical values.


The United States' Fragility Index

In the image above, we can see the overall index score of the U.S. increasing significantly. On the Fragile States Index, the lower the number, the better. In 2021, the U.S. increased its overall score by 6.3 points and has continued the trend of climbing up the Fragile States ranking ladder in a terrible way.


United States' Rankings

Looking at the historical data, the U.S. has hovered around 155-160 for a good chunk but has recently dropped to 143rd. While the table above is just an image, the Fragile States Index website has an interactive table using Tableau allowing you to deeper analyze each category.

Global Five-Year Trends

Looking at the five-year trend gives a damning illustration that comparatively, the U.S is not doing so hot, along with the U.K. and Brazil.


Summary

The Fragile States Index is an amazing tool to actually quantify the feeling of collapse rather than just assuming it's all completely gone to shit. While the examples given above are simple images, the website is extremely powerful and interactive, providing amazing data for each country. On top of that, the methodology report is an interesting and in-depth way to understand how they validate the data of tens of millions of sources. The Fund for Peace is a non-profit that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security. Check out The Fund for Peace here: https://fundforpeace.org/

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