Artificial States


Alesina, Alberto, William Easterly, and Janina Matuszeski. 2006. “Artificial States”. Copy at
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Date Published:

May 1, 2006


Artificial states are those in which political borders do not coincide with a division of nationalities desired by the people on the ground. We propose and compute for all countries in the world two new measures of borders and divisions of people. One is based on measuring how borders split ethnic groups into two separate adjacent countries. The other one measures how straight land borders are, under the assumption the straight land borders are more likely to be artificial. We then show that these two measures seem to be highly correlated with several measures of political and economic success.


Last updated on 07/14/2016