Constellations of State Fragility v2.0

Ziaja, Sebastian / Jörn Grävingholt
Research Data

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)


Constellations of State Fragility (2.0) provides an empirical typology of states from a fragility perspective. It uses global data from 2005-2020 to identify typical constellations of state fragility. State fragility is defined as deficiencies in one or more of three core functions of the state. These functions include state authority, state capacity and state legitimacy. Authority refers to the state's ability to control violence. Capacity refers to the state's ability to provide basic public services. Legitimacy refers to the state's ability to obtain the population's consent to the state's claim to rule. In contrast to existing tools, Constellations of State Fragility was conceived to correct a central weakness that all existing fragility indices share: they simplify the complicated reality behind the stability or decay of statehood to such an extent that they are of very limited use for the operational task of crafting policies to counter state fragility. The main issue with these indices is not so much the ever-difficult challenge of measurement but rather their common conceptual assumption that such a multidimensional concept as statehood can be aggregated and projected onto a one-dimensional scale, thereby allowing different dimensions to compensate for each other, without a substantial distortion of information. Constellations of State Fragility, by contrast, classifies states while maintaining the multidimensionality of the state fragility concept. It identifies substantively different constellations of fragility in states that would otherwise receive very similar scores on aggregate indices.

About the authors

Grävingholt, Jörn

Political Scientist


Ziaja, Sebastian

Political Scientist


Schwachula, Anna



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