State fragility is a much-debated yet underinvestigated concept in the development and international security worlds. Based on years of research as part of the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy project at Carleton University, Exiting the Fragility Trap marks a major step toward remedying the lack of research into the so-called fragility trap. In examining the nature and dynamics of state transitions in fragile contexts, with a special emphasis on states that are trapped in fragility, David Carment and Yiagadeesen Samy ask three questions: Why do some states remain stuck in a fragility trap? What lessons can we learn from those states that have successfully transitioned from fragility to stability and resilience? And how can third-party interventions support fragile state transitions toward resilience?
Carment and Samy consider fragility’s evolution in three state types: countries that are trapped, countries that move in and out of fragility, and countries that have exited fragility. Large-sample empirical analysis and six comparative case studies—Pakistan and Yemen (trapped countries), Mali and Laos (in and out countries), and Bangladesh and Mozambique (exited countries)—drive their investigation, which breaks ground toward a new understanding of why some countries fail to see sustained progress over time.