State capacity is the ability of a government to accomplish policy goals, either generally or in reference to specific aims. A state that lacks capacity is defined as a fragile state or, in a more extreme case, a failed state.
There are multiple dimensions of state capacity, as well as varied indicators of state capacity. In studies that use state capacity as a causal variable, it has frequently been measured as the ability to tax, provide public goods, enforce property rights, achieve economic growth or hold a monopoly on the use of force within a territory.
Mark Dincecco distinguishes between state capacity (the state's ability to accomplish its intended actions) and "effective statehood" (the political arrangements that enable the state to best accomplish its intended actions). He argues that fiscal centralization and institutional impartiality are key to effective statehood.
State capacity may involve an expansion of the state's information-gathering abilities. In processes of state-building, states began implementing a regular and reliable census, the regular release of statistical yearbooks, and civil and population registers, as well as establishing a government agency tasked with processing statistical information.
- Dincecco, Mark (2017). State Capacity and Economic Development: Present and Past. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1, 15–24. ISBN 978-1-108-33755-7.
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- Brambor, Thomas; Goenaga, Agustín; Lindvall, Johannes; Teorell, Jan (2020-02-01). "The Lay of the Land: Information Capacity and the Modern State". Comparative Political Studies. 53 (2): 175–213. doi:10.1177/0010414019843432. ISSN 0010-4140.
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- Chaudoin, Stephen; Gaines, Brian J.; Livny, Avital (2021). "Survey Design, Order Effects, and Causal Mediation Analysis" (PDF). The Journal of Politics. doi:10.1086/715166. ISSN 0022-3816. Archived from the original on 2021.
- Suryanarayan, Pavithra (2021-04-12). "State capacity: a useful concept or meaningless pablum?". Broadstreet. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
- Brambor, Thomas; Goenaga, Agustín; Lindvall, Johannes; Teorell, Jan (2020). "The Lay of the Land: Information Capacity and the Modern State". Comparative Political Studies. 53 (2): 175–213. doi:10.1177/0010414019843432. ISSN 0010-4140.