"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

CIA Funded Method For Determining Political Instability

Taken from open source data.

The US Government-sponsored Political Instability Task Force presented many of its Phase V findings during a panel at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, DC, September 3, 2005. Copies of the three papers presented at the meeting are posted here in PDF format.

The PITF is funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. The PITF website is hosted by hosted by the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University and is provided as a public service. The views expressed herein are those of the Task Force and its individual members, and do not represent the views of the University or the US Government. Link

…First is trade openness (the total value of imports plus exports divided by GDP).
Countries with lower trade openness (at the 25th percentile in the global distribution) had roughly
two to three times higher odds of near-term instability than countries with higher openness to
trade (those at the 75th percentile). State-led discrimination reappears, but with a larger impact.
The odds ratio between states with and without major economic or political discrimination
ranges from three to forty across the three control sets. The large range suggests the presence of
outliers in control set B2, but the variable remains statistically significant across all three control

Colonial heritage makes a notable difference in stability, with countries that were not
formerly French colonies having odds of instability roughly four to thirteen times greater than former French possessions.

This most likely reflects the fact that France has been far more involved than other former colonial powers in
maintaining economic and political order in its prior domains, including supporting the West African Franc,
providing generous support to post-colonial rulers, and even intervening militarily to maintain unpopular rulers and head off rebellions.

We tested this argument with a categorical
version of a variable that counts a chief executive’s cumulative years in office and found that
new leaders (less than five years in office) and “entrenched” leaders (those more than fourteen
years in office) indeed faced higher odds of instability than their peers who had been in office from 5-14 years. The odds of near-term instability for short-term leaders were two to fifteen times higher, and those for entrenched leaders were six to twelve times higher.

Finally, we did find one effect of group composition on instability. Countries that had a
dominant religious majority (over two-thirds of the population identified with the main religious
group) were more likely to experience instability than countries in which the population was
more evenly divided among different religious groups. Countries with a dominant religious
majority faced relative odds of instability five to twelve times greater than those that were more
evenly divided

All of that said, regime type once again showed the strongest effects. With fewer cases
and thus smaller samples, we did not find significant differences among all five regime types;
instead, it was simply the case that full autocracies were most stable, partial democracies with
factionalism were the most unstable, and all other regimes fell in the same middling range of
instability. In particular, these other regimes had odds of instability that were six to nine times
higher than those of full autocracies. Here, however, the impact of partial democracies with
factionalism shoots right off the scale because in our data every African country that mixed
partial democracy with factionalism suffered instability”

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