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Using Capabilities as an Alternative Indicator for Well-being

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  • Luc Ootegem

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  • Elsy Verhofstadt

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Abstract

Direct measurement of capabilities is scarce, mainly because questions arise concerning their observability. This paper lines up with the kind of ‘primary data’ base research as it is pioneered in Anand & Van Hees (2006) and Anand et al (2009) and shows the potential of information on subjective capabilities as indicator and aggregator for well-being. We develop a questionnaire which consistently makes the distinction between functionings and capabilities on the one hand, and between the measurement and valuation of these functionings and capabilities on the other hand. We survey a population of 18 year old first year Bachelor students in applied economics and business studies. We show that capabilities can be subjectively measured. The data confirm the theoretical hypothesis that the set of capabilities is larger than the achieved functionings. Information on capabilities can be a suitable “object of valuation” for wellbeing research. To some extent, the explanatory variables behind the capabilities interpretation of well-being (eg. the role of the parents especially when they are divorced) are more relevant for policy compared to the variables influencing satisfaction with life (eg. not being single), because they are more beyond the control of the individual.
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Suggested Citation

  • Luc Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2012. "Using Capabilities as an Alternative Indicator for Well-being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 106(1), pages 133-152, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:106:y:2012:i:1:p:133-152
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-011-9799-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tania Burchardt, 2009. "Agency Goals, Adaptation and Capability Sets," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 3-19.
    2. Paul Anand & Graham Hunter & Ron Smith, 2005. "Capabilities and Well-Being: Evidence Based on the Sen–Nussbaum Approach to Welfare," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 9-55, October.
    3. Costanza, Robert & Fisher, Brendan & Ali, Saleem & Beer, Caroline & Bond, Lynne & Boumans, Roelof & Danigelis, Nicholas L. & Dickinson, Jennifer & Elliott, Carolyn & Farley, Joshua & Gayer, Diane Elli, 2007. "Quality of life: An approach integrating opportunities, human needs, and subjective well-being," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 267-276, March.
    4. Sabina Alkire, 2005. "Why the Capability Approach?," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 115-135.
    5. Anand, Paul & van Hees, Martin, 2006. "Capabilities and achievements: An empirical study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 268-284, April.
    6. Ana Moro-Egido & Judith Panades, 2010. "An Analysis of Student Satisfaction: Full-Time vs. Part-Time Students," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(2), pages 363-378, April.
    7. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2012. "Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199653591.
    8. Jacolyn Norrish & Dianne Vella-Brodrick, 2008. "Is the Study of Happiness a Worthy Scientific Pursuit?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 87(3), pages 393-407, July.
    9. Sen, Amartya, 1984. "The Living Standard," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(0), pages 74-90, Supplemen.
    10. Marc Fleurbaey, 2006. "Capabilities, Functionings and Refined Functionings," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 299-310.
    11. Henry Chow, 2005. "Life Satisfaction Among University Students in a Canadian Prairie City: a Multivariate Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 139-150, January.
    12. 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.
    13. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    14. Hilke Brockmann & Jan Delhey, 2010. "Introduction: The Dynamics of Happiness and the Dynamics of Happiness Research," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 97(1), pages 1-5, May.
    15. Erik Schokkaert, 2007. "Capabilities and Satisfaction with Life," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 415-430.
    16. Gasper, Des, 2007. "What is the capability approach?: Its core, rationale, partners and dangers," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 335-359, June.
    17. Sawa, Takamitsu, 1978. "Information Criteria for Discriminating among Alternative Regression Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1273-1291, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Karen Hofmann & Dominik Schori & Thomas Abel, 2013. "Self-Reported Capabilities Among Young Male Adults in Switzerland: Translation and Psychometric Evaluation of a German, French and Italian Version of a Closed Survey Instrument," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 723-738, November.
    2. Suwastika Naidu, 2016. "Does Human Development Influence Women’s Labour Force Participation Rate? Evidences from the Fiji Islands," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 1067-1084, July.
    3. Claudia Kettner & Angela Köppl & Sigrid Stagl, 2014. "Towards an operational measurement of socio-ecological performance," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 52, WWWforEurope.
    4. Tindara Addabbo & Maria Laura Di Tommaso & Anna Maccagnan, 2016. "Education Capability: A Focus on Gender and Science," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(2), pages 793-812, September.
    5. Koen Decancq & Luc Van Ootegem & Elsy Verhofstadt, 2013. "What If We Voted on the Weights of a Multidimensional Well‐Being Index? An Illustration with Flemish Data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34, pages 315-332, September.
    6. Sabina Alkire, 2015. "The Capability Approach and Well-Being Measurement for Public Policy," OPHI Working Papers ophiwp094.pdf, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    7. Pelenc, Jérôme, 2014. "Combining the capability approach and Max-Neef’s needs approach for a better assessment of multidimensional well-being and inequalities: a case study perspective with vulnerable teenagers of the regio," MPRA Paper 66277, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1399-x is not listed on IDEAS

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