This chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to offer an approach to studying weak or fragile states, taking a first step toward bringing them into mainstream economic analyses. It proceeds by using more-or-less standard ideas and methods to study the basics of state building. A key issue is to understand what creates effective states. The chapter then outlines the main ideas in brief but accessible form. It is also reviews some of the historical evidence and discusses some narrative accounts of development that shape our thinking. The primary aim is to demonstrate a strong link between the present work, with its clear roots in mainstream economics, and research within other disciplines and less mainstream approaches.
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