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Going Beyond Functionings to Capabilities : an Econometric Model to Explain and Estimate Capabilities

  • Jaya Krishnakumar

Any attempt to operationalise the capability approach necessitates an adequate framework for the measurement of the abstract unobservable multidimensional concept that the term human development stands for. One such attempt is the latent variable approach including principal components, factor analysis and MIMIC models. The first two models provide estimates of the latent variables but are silent on the factors influencing these variables (capabilities in our context). MIMIC models represent a step further in this direction as they include exogenous “causal” variables for the latent factors but the effects go only in one direction i.e. from the “causes” to the latent variables. We argue that some of these causal factors not only influence human development but they are also influenced by it and that unless this feedback mechanism is taken into account we do not have a complete picture of this complex phenomenon. In this paper we present a theoretical framework incorporating the above aspects into a coherent system of causes, effects and interactions, leading to an econometric model which represents a generalisation of existing latent variable models. Estimating the model will enable us to explain the level of capabilities, say how they can be best improved, test our theoretical hypotheses and derive estimators that reflect the actual capabilities rather than just the functionings.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève in its series Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva with number 2004.12.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gen:geneem:2004.12
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  1. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2003. "Human Well-being and Economic Well-being: What Values Are Implicit in Current Indices?," CSLS Research Reports 2003-04, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  2. Muthen, Bengt, 1983. "Latent variable structural equation modeling with categorical data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1-2), pages 43-65.
  3. Basudeb Biswas & Frank Caliendo, 2002. "A Multivariate Analysis of the Human Development Index," Working Papers 2002-11, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
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