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Capabilities and Choices: Do They Make Sen'se for Understanding Objective and Subjective Well-Being? An Empirical Test of Sen's Capability Framework on German and British Panel Data

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  • Ruud Muffels
  • Bruce Headey

Abstract

In Sen's Capability Approach (CA) well-being can be defined as the freedom of choice to achieve the things in life which one has reason to value most for his or her personal life. Capabilities are in Sen's vocabulary therefore the real freedoms people have or the opportunities available to them. In this paper we examine the impact of capabilities alongside choices on subjective and objective well-being. There is a lot of theoretical work on Sen's capability framework but still a lack of empirical research in measuring and testing his capability model especially in a dynamic perspective. The aim of the paper is to elaborate and test a "stock-flow" model measuring capabilities and choices to explain longer-term changes in well-being using 25 years of German and 18 years of British data. Three measures of well-being are constructed: life satisfaction for subjective well-being (SWB) and relative income and employment security for objective well-being (OWB). We ran random and fixed effects GLS models. The findings strongly support Sen's capabilities framework and provide new evidence on the way capabilities and choices matter for well-being. Capabilities indicated by human capital, trust, altruism and risk taking, and family, work-leisure, lifestyle and social choices show to strongly affect the three well-being indicators but their effect sizes differ largely dependent on the type of indicator used.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 385.

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Length: 32 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp385

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Keywords: Subjective and objective well-being; happiness; work-leisure choices; income security; employment security; Sen¿s capability approach; German and British panel data; fixed effects GLS models;

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References

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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
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  12. Didier Fouarge & Anna Manzoni & Ruud Muffels & Ruud Luijkx, 2010. "Childbirth and cohort effects on mothers' labour supply: a comparative study using life history data for Germany the Netherlands and Great Britain," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 24(3), pages 487-507, September.
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  14. Headey, Bruce & Muffels, Ruud & Wooden, Mark, 2004. "Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness… Or Does It? A Reconsideration Based on the Combined Effects of Wealth, Income and Consumption," IZA Discussion Papers 1218, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  20. Alkire, Sabina, 2008. "Choosing Dimensions: The Capability Approach and Multidimensional Poverty," MPRA Paper 8862, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  22. Ruud Muffels & Bauke Kemperman, 2011. "Does a Better Job Match Make Women Happier?: Work Orientations, Work-Care Choices and Subjective Well-Being in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 361, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The happiness agenda makes for miserable policy
    by Daniel Sage, Doctoral Researcher in Social Policy at University of Stirling in The Conversation on 2014-01-09 06:22:30
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Cited by:
  1. Silvia Maja Melzer & Ruud J. Muffels, 2012. "Migrant's Pursuit of Happiness: The Impact of Adaption, Social Comparison and Relative Deprivation; Evidence from a 'Natural' Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 448, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Claudia Kettner & Angela Köppl & Sigrid Stagl, 2014. "Towards an operational measurement of socio-ecological performance," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 52, WWWforEurope.

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