6. STATE PROFILES

Lateral pressure theory further argues that all states can be characterized by different combinations of population, resource and technology – the master variables – and that different combinations yield different state profiles – and different impacts on the natural environment. The theory assumes that interactions among these variables within states affect power distributions and relations among states. In other words, different state profiles – characterized by different population/resource/technology relationships -- manifest different propensities for external behaviors (Choucri and North, 19891; North, 19902; Wickboltd and Choucri, 20063). The state profile is also a good predictor of power-indicators on the one hand and, as we have shown, patterns of environmental impacts, on the other (Choucri and North, 1993a4).

The formal specification of state profiles in the Table below presents the definitional inequality. For convenience, state profiles are displayed in terms of a technology-driven perspective, indicated by the T-variable along the diagonals. But this is not a necessary feature of the theory or of the concept of profiles.

Definition of State Profiles
Profile 6 Technology > Population > Resources
Profile 5 Technology > Resources > Population
Profile 4 Resources > Technology > Population
Profile 3 Population > Technology > Resources
Profile 2 Population > Resources > Technology
Profile 1 Resources > Population > Technology

The theoretical point is this: Different profiles generate different propensities for expansion. Here is the direct connection between internal attributes and external behavior – thereby leading to a wide range of international consequences. We shall turn to the measurement of profiles later in this chapter and as well as the empirical basis for this proposition. The reorganization of each profile location in this table yields, by definition, a population-driven display, or alternatively, a resource-driven display (each with the P- or the R- variables along the diagonals).  See Choucri and North (1993b5) and Lofdahl (20026) for the original specification; and Wickboldt and Choucri (2006)3 for extension of the logic to differentiate empirically among countries within each profile group.


  1. Choucri, N., & North, R. C. (1989).  Lateral Pressure in International Relations: Concept and Theory. In Midlarsky, M. I. (1989). Handbook of war studies: [1]. Boston [u.a.: Unwin Hyman.
  2. North, R. C. (1990). War, peace, survival: Global politics and conceptual synthesis. Boulder: Westview Press.
  3. Wickboldt, Anne-Katrin, & Choucri, N. (2006). Profiles of States as Fuzzy Sets: Refinement of Lateral Pressure Theory. International Interaction, 32, 153-181.
  4. Choucri, N., & North, R. C. (1993a). Global Accord: Imperatives for the Twenty-First Century. In Choucri, N. (1993). Global accord: Environmental challenges and international responses. Cambridge, Mass. u.a: MIT Press.
  5. Choucri, N., & North, R. C. (1993b). Population and Security: National Perspectives and Global Imperatives. In Dewitt, D. B., Haglund, D. G., & Kirton, J. J. (1993). Building a new global order: Emerging trends in international security. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 
  6. Lofdahl, C. L. (2002). Environmental impacts of globalization and trade: A systems study. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.