Fragile State Index: How Stable is Your Country?

In terms of stability, all countries are not created equal. Some are rich, some are poor, some are violent and some are safe. The Fund For Peace, a U.S.-based NGO, stack ranks 174 countries every year based on how stable a country is. Hard data such as economic indicators, security, strength of factions and other indicators are analyzed and compared yearly. Each country, based on its data, is given an index score and ranked from 1 to 174. The higher the index, the more unstable the country. The data may surprise you.  

Fragile State Index

  • The Fund for Peace stack ranks 174 countries every year based on stability.
  • Yemen is the newly ranked most unstable country with Somalia slipping to the second most unstable country.
  • Western Europe, in particular Nordic countries (Finland, Norway, Demark, Sweden and Iceland)  continue to be ranked as the most stable countries in the world.
  • The world’s largest economies (U.S., China, Japan) are noticeably absent from top ten most stable countries.  

The African continent continues to dominate the world’s most unstable countries list while Westrn Europe dominates the most stable component.  Looking into the details reveals some surprising takeaways.

Fragile State Index - Top 10 Most Unstable Countries

1. Yemen. Fragility Index: 113.5 - GDP: $31.3B
2. Somalia. Fragility Index: 112.3 - GDP: $7.05B
3. Democratic Republic of Congo. Fragility Index: 110.2 - GDP: $37.6B
4. Central African Republic. Fragility Index: 108.9 - GDP: $1.95B
5. Chad. Fragility Index: 108.5 - GDP: $9.87B
6. South Sudan. Fragility Index: 108 - GDP: $117B
7. Afghanistan. Fragility Index: 105 - GDP: $19.5B
8. Zimbabwe. Fragility Index: 99.5 - GDP: $22B
9. Guinea. Fragility Index: 99.4 - GDP: $10.5B
10. Haiti. Fragility Index: 99.3 - GDP: $8.41B

Fragile State Index - Top 10 Most Stable Countries

1. Finland. Fragility Index: 16.9 - GDP: $252B
2. Norway. Fragility Index: 18 - GDP: $399B
3. Switzerland. Fragility Index: 18.7 - GDP: $679B
4. Denmark. Fragility Index: 19.5 - GDP: $330B
5. Australia. Fragility Index: 19.7 - GDP: $1.32T
6. Iceland. Fragility Index: 19.8 - GDP: $24.5B
7. Canada. Fragility Index: 20 - GDP: $1.65T
8. New Zealand. Fragility Index: 20.1 - GDP: $204B
9. Sweden. Fragility Index: 20.3 - GDP: $536B
10. Luxembourg. Fragility Index: 20.4 - GDP: $62.3B

The biggest surprise from the data comes from the most stable countries, not the unstable. Nordic countries occupy 50% of the top 10 countries. Western Europe occupies 70% of the top 10. These countries score very high on security, economics and most importantly economic inequality. Nordic countries are some of the most economically equal countries in the world.  

While there is a correlation between GDP and stability, the world’s top three largest economies (U.S., China, and Japan) don’t make the most stable countries top ten list. The U.S. doesn’t even break the top 20 coming in at 26. Japan ranks 22nd and China remains in the elevated risk category at 90. In other words, China, despite being the world’s second largest economy is in the top 100 of countries most at risk of instability.  

The rankings provide a snapshot in time. The trend of a countries ascent or decline is perhaps more instructive on where a country is heading. In the case of the U.S., it has been in a declining trend for several years despite a robust economy. Fragile State Index 2018 report devotes an entire section to the declining stability ranking of the U.S. and highlights partisan politics as a key contributing factor.  

Looking for more perspective on how the U.S. ranks against the world? Read our piece on how U.S. States compare to entire countries.

About the article