Alesina et al. on Iraq
FYI, Alesina is my Harvard colleague, and Janina is a Harvard grad student (and former Ec 10 section leader).
Artificial states are those in which political borders do not coincide with a division of nationalities desired by the people on the ground. We propose and compute for all countries in the world two new measures how artificial states are. One is based on measuring how borders split ethnic groups into two separate adjacent countries. The other one measures how straight land borders are, under the assumption the straight land borders are more likely to be artificial. We then show that these two measures seem to be highly correlated with several measures of political and economic success.
Thanks to Truck and Barter for the pointer to the Shlaes article.