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Getting Ahead and Falling Behind: A Sociological Elaboration of Sen's Theory of Human Development

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  • Robert M. Marsh

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type="main"> One relatively neglected question raised by Amartya Sen's theory of human development is: Why do people and societies differ in their capacity to convert income and commodities into valuable human achievements (“functionings” in Sen's terminology)? I focus upon the degree to which people in developed and developing societies realize each of the six diverse types of valued functionings: long life, schooling, living in a society with less income inequality and less gender inequality, more political freedom, and greater life satisfaction. Using data from all societies with a population of over 1 million (N = 156), I first regress each type of functioning on societies’ GDP per capita to obtain the residual scores. These scores indicate which societies do better than expected, as expected, or worse than expected on the basis of their level of economic development. To explain these differences, I then estimate an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model whose independent variables are economic growth rate, ethnolinguistic fractionalization, civil war fatalities, corruption, and several dummy variables for cultural regions of the world.

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  • Robert M. Marsh, 2014. "Getting Ahead and Falling Behind: A Sociological Elaboration of Sen's Theory of Human Development," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1001-1021, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:95:y:2014:i:4:p:1001-1021
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ssqu.12088
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