IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A dynamic operationalization of Sen's capability approach


  • Marco Grasso

    (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)


The limits of the utilitarian approach have led to a search for different notions of welfare. The income approach to well-being, in fact, doesn’t account for the diversity in human beings and for the heterogeneities of contingent circumstances. Amartya Sen, looking for broader notions of well-being, has developed an approach focused on the freedom of individuals to pursue their own project of life: the capability approach. The main purpose of the paper is to explore the possibility of using system dynamics to operationalize Sen’s framework. First of all we address the methodological issues that have to be considered in order to operationalize the capability approach in a dynamic framework. Then we investigate the architecture of the three- functionings model we devised to represent human well-being, as intended in the capability approach. Furthermore, we analyze in depth the structure of a particular functioning, and consider some simulations for the selected functioning and for the whole model over time. Finally, the concluding remarks suggest some indications about the use of system dynamics in order to operationalize the capability approach, and consider the main findings derived from the simulations carried out.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Grasso, 2002. "A dynamic operationalization of Sen's capability approach," HEW 0211001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0211001
    Note: Type of Document - acrobat reader; prepared on windows 98;

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amartya Sen, 1997. "Inequality, Unemployment and Contemporary Europe," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 07, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jürgen Volkert & Friedrich Schneider, 2011. "The Application of the Capability Approach to High-Income OECD Countries: A Preliminary Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 3364, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Leßmann, Ortrud, 2011. "Empirische Studien zum Capability Ansatz auf der Grundlage von Befragungen: Ein Überblick," UFZ Discussion Papers 4/2011, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    3. Ortrud Lessmann, 2009. "Conditions of Life, Functionings and Capability: Similarities, Differences and Complementary Features," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 279-298.

    More about this item


    welfare measurement;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0211001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.