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The Development of Capability Indicators

Author

Listed:
  • Paul Anand
  • Graham Hunter
  • Ian Carter
  • Keith Dowding
  • Francesco Guala
  • Martin Van Hees

Abstract

This paper is motivated by sustained interest in the capabilities approach to welfare economics combined with the paucity of economic statistics that measure capabilities at the individual level. Specifically, it takes a much discussed account of the normatively desirable capabilities constitutive of a good life, argued to be comprehensive at a high level of abstraction, and uses it to operationalize the capabilities approach by developing a survey instrument to elicit information about capabilities at the individual level. The paper explores the extent to which these capabilities are covariates of a life satisfaction measure of utility and investigates aspects of robustness and subgroup differences using standard socio-demographic variables as well as a relatively novel control for personality. In substantial terms, we find there is some evidence of quantitative, but no qualitative, gender and age differences in the capabilities-life satisfaction relationship. Furthermore, we find that indicators from a wide range of life domains are linked to life satisfaction, a finding that supports multi-dimensional approaches to poverty and the non-materialist view that people do not just value financial income per se. Our most important contribution, however, is primarily methodological and derives from the demonstration that, within the conventions of household and social surveys, human capabilities can be measured with the aid of suitably designed statistical indicators.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jhudca:v:10:y:2009:i:1:p:125-152 DOI: 10.1080/14649880802675366
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. P. B. Anand, 2004. "Financing the Provision of Global Public Goods," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, pages 215-237.
    2. Anand, Sudhir & Sen, Amartya, 2000. "Human Development and Economic Sustainability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2029-2049, December.
    3. P. B. Anand, 2003. "From conflict to co-operation: some design issues for local collective action institutions in cities," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., pages 231-243.
    4. Barrett, Scott, 1994. "Self-Enforcing International Environmental Agreements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 878-894, Supplemen.
    5. Daniel McFadden, 1998. "Rationality for Economists?," Working Papers 98-09-086, Santa Fe Institute.
    6. McFadden, Daniel, 1999. "Rationality for Economists?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 73-105, December.
    7. Anand, P.B., 2006. "Millennium Development Goal 7: An Assessment of Progress With Respect to Water and Sanitation: Legacy, Synergy, Complacency or Policy?," WIDER Working Paper Series 001, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Anand, P B, 2007. "Right to water and access to water," MPRA Paper 47437, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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