Who Are The Mortacracies? Part V

[first published May 8, 2006] I lied. I wrote that this would be the concluding part of this series on defining the world’s mortacracies, with my identification of the final list and what to do about them. But, I came across the Fund For Peace webste on failed states with beautiful data for my purpose here. So, never one to let good data rest in peace, I will exploit them to further define mortacracies.

The data comprise the 12 indicators of a state’s failure listed below:

1 – Mounting Demographic Pressures,
2 – Massive Movement of Refugees and DPs,
3 – Legacy of Vengeance – Seeking Group Grievance,
4 – Chronic and Sustained Human Flight,
5 – Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines,
6 – Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline,
7 – Criminalization or Delegitimization of the State,
8 – Progressive Deterioration of Public Services,
9 – Widespread Volition of Human Rights,
10 – Security Apparatus as “State within a State,”
11 – Rise of Factionalized Elites,
12 – Intervention of Other States or External Actors.

The definitions of each of these variables is here, and the methodology for scoring nations in a range from 0 for least intensity on an indicator to 10 for the highest intensity—greatest failure—is here. The actual scoring is done though special software, which:

“indexed and scanned tens of thousands of open-source articles and reports using Boolean logic. The data are electronically gathered using Thomson Dialog, a powerful data-collection system that includes international and local media reports and other public documents, including U.S. State Department reports, independent studies, and even corporate financial filings. The data used in each index are collected from May to December of the preceding year. The software calculates the number of positive and negative ‘hits’ for the 12 indicators. Internal and external experts then review the scores as well as the articles themselves, when necessary, to confirm the scores and ensure accuracy.”

Before going on, I have to clarify a possible confusion of terms. In line with my source, I will have to use the term “state” for the sovereign nations or countries of the world. In previous parts, I have been using the term “country,” which is a more general term for both a state and the non-sovereign territories of a state, although by context it should have been clear that I meant states. Sometimes, because of my background in international relations, I also may unthinkingly use the term “nation” for state, or “nation state.”

Now, keeping in mind that I am not focused on defining failed states in order to assess the risk of conflict, as is The Fund For Peace, but on defining mortacracies, not all 12 indicators are relevant t this purpose. So, I excluded indicators 1, 5, 11, and 12, and recalculated the total sum of the remaining eight indicators. The maximum possible failure is a total sum of 80 on these eight indicators, and the minimum is 0. The worst failure, then, is Sudan with a total of 74.6, and the least failure is Norway with 9.8 (these are the same lowest and highest failures on all 12 indicators). The U.S. is at 21, just above the U.K., which is 20.7. The average is 45.9, with a median of 50.3 and a standard deviation of 16.7.

The next step is to standardize these totals to get a relative picture of what nations are high in failure and to plot the result. The plot is shown below (if the plot is unclear or does not show, see here:


The distribution of states is a uniform curve that is nearly perfectly fitted (correlation squared = .998!) by a fourth degree polynomial. There are two inflection points on the curve, one approximately at a standard score of 1.00 (which means the states at this level states are about one-standard deviation above the mean = 0), and the other at about the mean itself. The implication of this is that a good list of mortacracies would be those at or above one standard deviation on the total for the eight indicators.

These comprise the 21 states shown below (if the list is unclear or does not show, see here):

This is quite a list. Unlike some of the other lists of possible mortacracies, this one has virtually all the states I would have included intuitively, especially the top ones. Even North Korea and Burma are captured by these indicators.

Now, from all I have done, it is time to choose a final list of mortacracies. I promise.



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