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Adaptation, Poverty and Well-Being: Some Issues and Observations with Special Reference to the Capability Approach and Development Studies

  • David A. Clark
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    The idea that people adapt to poverty and deprivation by suppressing their wants, hopes and aspirations has gained a lot of currency in development ethics.� While the 'adaptation problem' is often cited as one of the primary arguments for abandoning utility based concepts of well-being in favour of the capability approach, it also has serious implications for the capability approach and development studies generally.� These implications are not normally discussed or acknowledged in the well-being and development literature.� Fortunately for development studies, the available evidence suggests that adaptation is not ubiquitous.� Moreover, where adaptation occurs, there is some evidence to suggest that it takes a different - and far less damaging - form than the type discussed in work on human well-being and development.

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    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-081.

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    Date of creation: 01 Sep 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-081
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    Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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    1. Ingrid Robeyns, 2007. "Bibliography on the Capability Approach, 2006-2007," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 481-486.
    2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Easterlin, Richard A., 2005. "A puzzle for adaptive theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 513-521, April.
    4. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    5. Severine Deneulin, 2005. "Promoting Human Freedoms under Conditions of Inequalities: a procedural framework," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 75-95.
    6. Sugden, Robert, 2006. "What We Desire, What We Have Reason to Desire, Whatever We Might Desire: Mill and Sen on the Value of Opportunity," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 33-51, March.
    7. David Clark & Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2008. "Core Poverty, Vagueness and Adaptation: A New Methodology and Some Results for South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 519-544.
    8. Amartya Sen, 2004. "Capabilities, Lists, And Public Reason: Continuing The Conversation," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 77-80.
    9. Mozaffar Qizilbash, 1997. "A weakness of the capability approach with respect to gender justice," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 251-262.
    10. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & John Knight, 2006. "Subjective well-being poverty vs. Income poverty and capabilities poverty?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(7), pages 1199-1224.
    11. repec:ems:euriss:23177 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Miriam Teschl & Flavio Comim, 2005. "Adaptive Preferences and Capabilities: Some Preliminary Conceptual Explorations," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(2), pages 229-247.
    13. Martha Nussbaum, 2006. "Education and Democratic Citizenship: Capabilities and Quality Education," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 385-395.
    14. Des Gasper, 2002. "Is Sen's Capability Approach an Adequate Basis for Considering Human Development?," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 435-461.
    15. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
    16. Qizilbash, Mozaffar, 2006. "Capability, Happiness and Adaptation in Sen and J. S. Mill," Utilitas, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 20-32, March.
    17. David Clark, 2005. "Sen's capability approach and the many spaces of human well-being," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(8), pages 1339-1368.
    18. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
    19. Tania Burchardt, 2005. "Are One Man’s Rags Another Man’s Riches? Identifying Adaptive Expectations using Panel Data," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 57-102, October.
    20. David Clark, 2003. "Concepts and Perceptions of Human Well-being: Some Evidence from South Africa," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(2), pages 173-196.
    21. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, 2003. "The Human Development Paradigm: Operationalizing Sen'S Ideas On Capabilities," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 301-317.
    22. Alkire, Sabina, 2002. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245796, March.
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