Globally, state failure is hugely costly, in terms of lost output and the high costs imposed by failing states on their neighbours. This paper examines the cost of failing states in the Pacific. The Pacific region differs from other regions: since its countries are islands the neighbourhood spillovers that normally generate these costs do not apply. The cost of state failure for an island is much lower than for other states, but state failure is more costly to the state itself, as opposed to its neighbours, if the state is an island. This may be due to the greater openness of islands, implying greater flight of financial and human capital. Because neighbours are not directly affected by state failure in the Pacific, any possible interventions should be centred on the humanitarian concern.