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Measuring Human Capabilities (previously entitled "The Development of Capability Indicators and their Relation of Life Satisfaction")


  • Paul Anand

    () (Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University)

  • Graham Hunter
  • Ian Carter
  • Keith Dowding
  • Francesco Guala
  • Martin Van Hees


The paper is motivated by sustained interest in the capabilities approach to welfare economics combined with the purported paucity of economic statistics that measure capabilities at the individual level. Specifically, it takes a focal account of normatively desirable capabilities constitutive of a good life and operationalizes that account by means of a new survey instrument used to elicit information about capabilities at the individual level. The paper explores the extent to which these capabilities are co-variates of a life satisfaction measure of utility ('happiness') and finds that many are. Aspects of robustness are explored using standard socio-demographic variables as well as a relatively novel control for personality; in addition, a range of different models are explored and sub-population differences are examined.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Anand & Graham Hunter & Ian Carter & Keith Dowding & Francesco Guala & Martin Van Hees, 2005. "Measuring Human Capabilities (previously entitled "The Development of Capability Indicators and their Relation of Life Satisfaction")," Open Discussion Papers in Economics 53, The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:opn:wpaper:53

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    More about this item


    capabilities; indicators; measurement; human development; welfare; happiness; life satisfaction; controls; personality;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General


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