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A Half Century of Promise and Progress

  • Richard J. Estes
Chapter
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 78)

Abstract

Nations are dynamic entities that are constantly changing in response to the needs of often expanding populations (Ghose, 2013; United Nations Population Division, 2018). They also change or realign existing systems in response to the complex social, economic, political, technological, and environmental needs that emerge with increased frequency and seriousness (Central Intelligence Agency, 2018; World Bank, 2018). Issues of emigration, immigration, and diversity-related social conflict also impact the capacity of nations to perform their varied functions. Though quite diverse with respect to geographic size, population characteristics, type of polity, and economic system, nations share a variety of features and functions. Ranked in order by their relative importance, the most unifying characteristics of state functions are (1) recognition of their political sovereignty by other nations; (2) a coherent set of principles that guides their interactions with other sovereign states; (3) a defensible set of secure geopolitical borders; (4) the administration of justice within a system of laws to which, optimally, the governed have assented (e.g., via a written constitution and an independent judiciary); (5) the provision of a range of “public goods” designed to meet the collective needs of their populations (e.g., the creation of monetary and banking systems, road-building and other transportation networks, the development of communications infrastructure, and the provision of at least limited health, education, and related human services); (6) special public and private initiatives designed to meet the income security and related needs of their most vulnerable inhabitants, e.g., children, the elderly, persons with chronic illnesses or disabilities, unemployed persons, families with large numbers of children (Estes & Zhou, 2014); and (7) a commitment to promoting the general well-being of the society as a whole (Estes & Sirgy, 2017a; Helliwell, Layard, & Sachs, 2017).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Estes
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social Policy & PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaNarberthUSA

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