Collage of seminar photos. © UNU-WIDER

David Carment on exiting the fragility trap

WIDER Seminar Series

David Carment of Carleton University will present at the WIDER seminar on 13 September 2017.

Abstract – Exiting the fragility trap: Rethinking our approach to the world's most fragile states | PPT slides

It is frequently assumed that developing states experience sustained progress over time as their economies grow, their institutions consolidate and poverty diminishes.  But for many, this is simply not the case.   Those fragile states whose stagnation is so tenacious despite generous aid programs, and substantial and costly interventions, are stuck in a “fragility trap”. States that are persistently fragile pose an unmet challenge to policy makers, theorists, and analysts because they show little indication of how they might exit from their political, economic, and social malaise. Conventional aid policies do not appear to work as effectively in these countries. Caught in a low‐level equilibrium, trapped states appear to be in a perpetual political and economic limbo that can last for years and in several cases, decades.

Our goal is to determine those features that trapped states have in common, and compare changes in those features over time with states that have successfully exited. We examine and test competing explanations of fragility persistence in order to build a model of the fragility trap. We deploy a mixed methods approach consisting of large sample analysis and structured focused comparison. While statistical testing can help us identify correlates of the fragility trap using proxies, case studies provide the basis for explaining  the causal effects of specific changes over time. The paper unfolds in four parts. In the first part we examine key concepts underpinning fragility traps in addition to conducting a review of current theorizing. In the second part we present the results of our large sample analysis. In the third part we compare the results of our comparative case studies with findings from the large sample analysis. In the fourth and final section we conclude with a discussion of how our findings can inform policy.

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics. The weekly sessions held in Helsinki are open to local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others working on development topics. Click here to read more about the WIDER Seminar Series.