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Measuring welfare: Latent variable models for happiness and capabilities in the presence of unobservable heterogeneity

  • Anand, Paul
  • Krishnakumar, Jaya
  • Tran, Ngoc Bich

The paper contributes to the operationalisation of the capabilities approach to welfare economics by developing and analyzing data on the freedoms of adults in Argentina. Specifically, it reports on the development and delivery of a survey instrument for measuring capabilities, calculates for each respondent a Nehring–Puppe type index of capabilities and examines the distribution of index scores. The main analytic part of the paper then goes on to develop a generalized linear latent and mixed model (GLLAMM) for assessing the impact of capabilities on life satisfaction, in which allowance is made for (i) unobserved heterogeneity and (ii) possible endogeneity, by introducing latent individual effects and by instrumenting capability variables using income and other socio-economic variables. Our empirical results show that empathy, self-worth, goal-autonomy, discrimination, safety and stress are statistically significant determinants of life satisfaction, in a decreasing order of importance. The paper concludes by suggesting that, if replicated, the findings have profound implications for the conceptualisation and evaluation of economic progress.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 205-215

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:3:p:205-215
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Jaya Krishnakumar, 2004. "Going Beyond Functionings to Capabilities : an Econometric Model to Explain and Estimate Capabilities," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 2004.12, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
  2. James Banks, 2006. "Economic capabilities, choices and outcomes at older ages," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 27(3), pages 281-311, August.
  3. Krishnakumar, Jaya & Ballon, Paola, 2008. "Estimating Basic Capabilities: A Structural Equation Model Applied to Bolivia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 992-1010, June.
  4. BOSSERT, Walter & D'AMBROSIO, Conchita & PERAGINE, Vito, 2004. "Deprivation and Social Exclusion," Cahiers de recherche 2004-01, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  5. Duclos, Jean-Yves & Sahn, David & Younger, Stephen D., 2001. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Cahiers de recherche 0115, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  6. Wulf Gaertner & Yongsheng Xu, 1999. "On the structure of choice under different external references," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 609-620.
  7. Nehring,K. und C.Puppe, 1999. "A Theory of Diversity," Discussion Paper Serie A 605, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Marta Menéndez, 2007. "Inequality Of Opportunity In Brazil," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(4), pages 585-618, December.
  9. James J. Heckman, 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," NBER Working Papers 13195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Paul Anand & Graham Hunter & Ian Carter & Keith Dowding & Francesco Guala & Martin Van Hees, 2009. "The Development of Capability Indicators," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 125-152.
  11. Sen, Amartya K, 1979. "Personal Utilities and Public Judgements: Or What's Wrong with Welfare Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(355), pages 537-58, September.
  12. Klasen, Stephan, 2000. "Measuring Poverty and Deprivation in South Africa," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(1), pages 33-58, March.
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