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Article

Politometrics: Quantitative Models of Political Institutions  

Josep M. Colomer

Logical models and statistical techniques have been used for measuring political and institutional variables, quantifying and explaining the relationships between them, testing theories, and evaluating institutional and policy alternatives. A number of cumulative and complementary findings refer to major institutional features of a political process of decision-making: from the size of the assembly to the territorial structure of the country, the electoral system, the number of parties in the assembly and in the government, the government’s duration, and the degree of policy instability. Mathematical equations based on sound theory are validated by empirical tests and can predict precise observations.

Article

The Problems of Economic Data in Africa  

Morten Jerven

The study of economic development in African countries is facing a basic problem of lack of reliable data and statistics. These problems of economic data are best addressed under three main categories: design, capacity, and politics. The focus is on gross domestic product (GDP), but the relevance goes beyond GDP statistics because the aggregate of GDP requires economic data on all sectors of the economy, including expenditures and consumption, which gives the basis for discussing levels and trends in monetary poverty as well as having a correct count of the total population. The problem of design refers to the fact that many, if not most, of the statistical categories that are in use in international organizations disseminating statistics on social and economic affairs are categories that were designed as appropriate for developed countries. Indicators such as “unemployment” work better in a formalized labor market. The problems of design translate into problems of capacity. Because most economic transactions are not recorded in informal economies, this means that they are not reported as a rule and that therefore such recordings require a lot more resources. Many statistics that are readily available from administrative sources in higher-income countries need to be collected in more expensive surveys in low-income countries. Budgets for official services may already be constrained, and thus resources for statistical offices to collect these data are less than the resources needed to do so. Finally, politics of data matter. When statistics are based on missing data, the estimates will invariably be soft, and therefore malleable. Thus, when incentives are clearly identifiable before reporting or aggregation, the final estimates may be biased.

Article

Peacekeeping as a Tool of Foreign Policy  

Maline Meiske and Andrea Ruggeri

Peacekeeping is one of the principal activities and foreign policy tools implemented by the international community to create and “maintain international peace and security.” Peacekeeping operations have grown in size and scope since the late 1980s and have included traditional peacekeeping, multidimensional peacekeeping, and peace enforcement. Peacekeeping operations pursue far-reaching objectives ranging from humanitarian assistance and the repatriation of refugees, over the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants, to liberal democratic assistance policies. The proliferation and increased scope of peacekeeping operations imply greater significance of peacekeeping as a tool of foreign policy. As such, peacekeeping operations are not deployed solely according to matters of global peace and security, but the deployment of and contribution to peacekeeping operations is increasingly shaped by individual state’s foreign and security policy considerations. An increasing literature studying the supply side of peacekeeping offers a broad range of arguments for why countries contribute to peacekeeping operations referring to realism, liberalism, alliance politics, or domestic politics. Foreign and security policy goals that states try to attain by participating in peacekeeping operations include status enhancement and influence in the international system, the reduction of the threat of conflict diffusion into its own territory and of a potential influx of refugees, or the stabilization of political relations, international trade, and alliance politics. The existing literature leaves some lingering questions and methodological challenges that require further attention. Of particular importance are questions related to the politics of tool choice and the effectiveness of peacekeeping as a tool of foreign policy. Methodological challenges exist regarding data availability and collection as well as the appropriate modelling of cooperation between different organizations conducting peacekeeping operations and the interdependence of countries’ decisions regarding their choice of peacekeeping as a tool of foreign policy.