Leviathan's Latent Dimensions: Measuring State Capacity for Comparative Political Research
31 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2015
Date Written: September 2013
State capacity is a core concept in political science research, and it is widely recognized that state institutions exert considerable influence on outcomes such as economic development, civil conflict, democratic consolidation, and international security. Yet, researchers across these fields of inquiry face common problems involved in conceptualizing and measuring state capacity. This article examines these conceptual issues, identifies three common dimensions of state capacity, and uses Bayesian latent variable analysis to assess the extent to which these dimensions are discernible in available indicators of state capacity. We use the resulting State Capacity Dataset to provide new insight into existing theories of the influence of state capacity on development and the success of World Bank projects. It is hoped that this project will provide effective guidance and tools to researchers studying the causes and consequences of state capacity.
Keywords: state capacity, measurement, economic development, conflict, international security
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