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Capabilities and Wellbeing: Evidence Based on the Sen-Nussbaum Approach to Welfare

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Author Info

  • Paul Anand

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University)

  • Graham Hunter
  • Ron Smith

Abstract

One of the most significant theoretical contributions to welfare analysis across a range of disciplines has been the development of the capabilities framework by Sen and others. Motivated by the claim that freedom should play a key role in social evaluation, the capabilities framework suggests that we consider what it is that people are free to do, as well as what they actually do. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey in conjunction with a list of substantial values posited by Martha Nussbaum, we contribute to the operationalisation and testing of this approach. Specifically, we suggest that commonly used secondary data sources do provide some information about the capabilities people have and that this can be incorporated into models of (subjective) wellbeing such as those used by a growing number of labour and health economists. We find evidence that a wide range of capabilities exhibit statistically significant relations to wellbeing that the relations are complex and slightly different for men and women, and conclude with suggestions for future developments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics in its series Open Discussion Papers in Economics with number 47.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:opn:wpaper:47

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Keywords: capabilities; Sen; Nussbaum; happiness;

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  1. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Paul Frijters, 1999. "The measurement of welfare and well-being; the Leyden approach," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 071a, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  2. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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