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Journal Article

Disentangling the circularity in Sen's capability approach: an analysis of the co-evolution of functioning achievement and resources


Publication date




There is an ambiguity in Amartya Sen’s capability approach as
to what constitutes an individual’s resources, conversion factors and
valuable functionings. What we here call the “circularity problem”
points to the fact that all three concepts seem to be mutually
endogenous and interdependent. To econometrically account for this
entanglement we suggest a panel vector autoregression approach. We
analyze the intertemporal interplay of the above factors over a time
horizon of 15 years using the BHPS data set for Great Britain, measuring
individual well-being in functionings space with a set of basic
functionings, comprising “being happy”, “being healthy”, “being
nourished”, “moving about freely”, “being well-sheltered” and “having
satisfying social relations”. We find that there are indeed functionings
that are resources for many other functionings (viz. “being happy”)
while other functionings (“being well-sheltered” and “having satisfying
social relations”) are by and large independent, thus shedding light on a
facet of the capability approach that has been neglected so far.

Published in

Social Indicators Research

Volume and page numbers

103 , 327 -355





Econometrics and Well Being


not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only


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