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Micro-Foundations of Fragility: Concept, Measurements, and Application

We explore the micro-foundations of fragility by discussing how to measure the exposure
to fragility at the individual level. We focus on two notions that are not covered by existing
aggregate, state-centric indicators of fragility. First, different individuals may experience
fragility very differently. Second, even though a country as a whole may not be “fragile”,
individuals may be exposed to fragility. This differentiation suggests that the experience of
fragility varies not just at national levels but also between districts and between individuals.
To test this idea, we propose a “Fragility Exposure Index”, which accounts for human
security, economic inclusion and social cohesion at the micro-level. We then derive a series
of metrics that can be collected in typical household surveys. We test the performance of
the Fragility Exposure Index by including a “Fragility Exposure Module” in a household
survey in Kenya. Analysis of this data shows that individuals living in rural areas, as well
as young and single individuals, exhibit greater exposure to fragility. These findings
demonstrate the importance of understanding fragility at the individual level, particularly
as it provides the basis to understanding which who would benefit most from pro-stability
interventions and to how these interventions perform.

Baliki, G.; Brueck, T.; Ferguson, NTN.; Kebede, S. 2017. Micro-Foundations of Fragility: Concept, Measurements, and Application. IZA Discussion Paper Nr. 11188