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Foundations for measuring equality: a discussion paper for the equalities review

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  • Tania Burchardt
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    Abstract

    The Equalities Review is an independent panel set up by the UK government in 2005 to investigate the persistence of social inequalities and to make recommendations for the development of a unified Commission for Equality and Human Rights. This paper was originally written for the Review. It canvasses possible responses to the questions, ‘equality between whom?’ and ‘equality of what?’. It argues that equality of outcome is intuitively appealing but risks ignoring variations in need, differences in values and preferences, and the importance of individual agency. A broad interpretation of equality of opportunity, such as is provided by the capability approach, can address these limitations, by focusing on the substantive freedom enjoyed by individuals. Substantive freedom may be limited by a lack of personal resources, or by the economic, social, political, cultural, and environmental conditions context in which the individual is operating. The paper concludes by identifying, and indicating solutions to, a number of measurement issues that arise in operationalising the capability approach.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/6236/
    File Function: Open access version.
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 6236.

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    Length: 22 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:6236

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    Keywords: Equality; opportunity; capability approach;

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    1. Amartya Sen, 1995. "Mortality as an Indicator of Economic Success and Failure," Innocenti Lectures, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre innlec95/2, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
    2. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245796, October.
    3. Ingrid Robeyns, 2003. "Sen'S Capability Approach And Gender Inequality: Selecting Relevant Capabilities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 61-92.
    4. Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 2004. "On the Arbitrariness and Robustness of Multi-Dimensional Poverty Rankings," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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