On Bloomberg.com, Amity Shlaes discusses an article by three economists that looks at how a country's borders determine how successful the country is. They claim that national borders that are determined by natural boundaries (mountains, deserts, rivers) result in a more stable and successful country. Therefore, countries that have boundaries that are arbitrarily determined straight lines are more likely to split up or combine ethnic groups in ways that cause conflict for the country.
They use the word "squiggly" to represent natural boundaries and measure the "squiggly index" to determine how much of a country's border is determined by natural boundaries. In the article, Shlaes claims that Iraq will always face turmoil because their borders were arbitrarily determined (they have a low "squiggly index").
This is just an interesting example of applying data anlysis techniques to questions that push the boundaries of economics.
After reading the article, what do you think of the study? Do you agree with the recommendations of the authors? (Any comments that are too politically-charged or in any way disrespectful of both sides will be deleted)
(Source: Greg Mankiw's Blog)