Failed States Index

The Fund for Peace released its 2013 Failed States Index (FSI) earlier in July 2013 and I’ve included the ranking in our Mongolia Scorecard.


The Failed States Index aims to identify ” pressures [that] are pushing a state towards the brink of failure” and is issued by the U.S.-based Fund for Peace. Over 75% of its funding comes from foundations and “Government Contracts and Grants”.

The index is constructed through a combination of data triangulation and “critical review”, “scores are apportioned for every country based on twelve key political, social and economic indicators (which in turn include over 100 sub-indicators) that are the result of years of painstaking expert social science research”. As is the case with many of these indices, this explanation leaves much to be desired, though the website also offers links to a number of reviews of the index.

Mongolia in the Failed States Index

As I would have expected, Mongolia does not exhibit any indication of becoming a failed state and it is thus in the “stable” category of the FSI, ranked at 129 (out of 179, Rank 1 is a failed state) with a score of 57.8 (out of 120, lower = more stable).

There are 12 subindicators to the overall score with a maximum score of 10 on each of these subscores to add up to the overall possible total of 120 that would mark an utterly failed state.

Mongolia receives the lowest (= most stable) scores on “massive movement of refugees” (2.2) and “chronic human flight” (2.5) and is least stable as regards to “uneven development” (6.3) and “deterioration of public services” (5.7).

In terms of the movement of refugees, Mongolia’s score is the 23rd-lowest in the world and very close to Canada’s (2.1). This indicator mainly seems to rely on the presence of refugees in country.

For human flight Mongolia ranks even higher (20) and is preceded by New Zealand and follower by Italy with this ranking. This  indicator mainly seems to rely on outmigration from the country.

The uneven development indicator largely measures levels of income inequality (Gini coefficient) and shares of income by population segments. Here, Mongolia ranks 77th and is close in score to Thailand, for example.

The “deterioration of public services” indicator is least clear to me and includes “pressures and measures related to: policing, criminality, educational provision, literacy, water & sanitation, infrastructure, quality healthcare, telephony, internet access, energy reliability, roads”. Here Mongolia ranks at 87th just ahead of Vietnam.

This indicator is a bit puzzling, but I would imagine that Mongolia may do poorly in water & sanitation, roads while it should score quite well (in comparison to other countries with a similar subindicator score) on literacy, internet access.

Mongolia’s ranking is virtually unchanged from 2012. In looking at the subindicators, it seems to me that the “public service” score may increase in the future as this includes a number of areas that are being addressed actively by government policy, while the uneven development indicator may be unlikely to budge. Poverty and economic decline may also change from its current, fairly positive position (56th, 4.7) if there was a long-term downturn in commodity prices that would undermine Mongolia’s tax revenues and growth from natural resource projects. Many of the other subindicators also seem like they are likely to be stable for the foreseeable future.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots and tweets @jdierkes
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