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Capabilities and Wellbeing: Evidence Based on the Sen-Nussbaum Approach to Welfare

Paul Anand, Graham Hunter and Ronald Smith ()

No 47, Open Discussion Papers in Economics from The Open University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics

Abstract: One of the most significant theoretical contributions to welfare analysis across a range of disciplines has been the development of the capabilities framework by Sen and others. Motivated by the claim that freedom should play a key role in social evaluation, the capabilities framework suggests that we consider what it is that people are free to do, as well as what they actually do. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey in conjunction with a list of substantial values posited by Martha Nussbaum, we contribute to the operationalisation and testing of this approach. Specifically, we suggest that commonly used secondary data sources do provide some information about the capabilities people have and that this can be incorporated into models of (subjective) wellbeing such as those used by a growing number of labour and health economists. We find evidence that a wide range of capabilities exhibit statistically significant relations to wellbeing that the relations are complex and slightly different for men and women, and conclude with suggestions for future developments.

Keywords: capabilities; Sen; Nussbaum; happiness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 I31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 66 pages
Date: 2004-01
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Journal Article: Capabilities and Well-Being: Evidence Based on the Sen–Nussbaum Approach to Welfare (2005) Downloads
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