Bad neighbors: Failed states and their consequences

Zaryab Iqbal, Harvey Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


State failure reflects the collapse of a sovereign state, and has been hypothesized to destabilize an entire region. We assess the negative effects of state collapse, focusing particularly on the spatial diffusion of these consequences. We argue that the instability, unrest, and civil war that increase the risk for state collapse are not limited to the failed/collapsed state; states neighboringor located within close distance ofa failed state are also likely to experience subsequently higher levels of political instability, unrest, civil war, and interstate conflict. We also evaluate the likelihood of state failure itself diffusing to other states. Specifically, we test the proposition that state failure causes political turmoil in nearby states to a greater extent than in distant countries. We do so by including a distance-weighted measure of state failure and by evaluating the effect of collapse in contiguous states. We conclude that state failure/collapse itself is not contagious, but some of its most negative consequences do indeed diffuse to other states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-331
Number of pages17
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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