Volume LII – Number 1

David Tian

Abstract: There are few concepts more central to the field of political science than the concept of the state. Yet, despite its pervasiveness and centrality to the field, there remains no definite consensus on what – or who – constitutes a state. Given the disagreement on what a state is, there is even less agreement on how to measure state size. Previous scholars have suggested that state size is measured using various variables ranging from population figures to economic indicators to military capacity. This article adds to the debate surrounding the appropriate measurement of state size by first arguing for the necessity of having a consistent definition of what state size is, and then secondly by rejecting the notions that the size of a state can be measured using any variable other than territory. Ultimately, the central thesis of this article is that the only valid and methodologically sound way to measure the size of a state is to measure the amount of territory under its control. 

Keywords: state size, state territory, state autonomy, state population, state capacity, conceptual validity

About the Author: David K. Tian is a lecturer at Mongolia International University in the department of international relations and is a Ph.D student at Johns Hopkins University. He holds an M.A. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from theUniversity of Chicago

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