Social Indicators Research

, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 217–260

Subjective Quantitative Studies of Human Agency

  • Sabina Alkire


Amartya Sen’s writings have articulated the importance of human agency, and identified the need for information on agency freedom to inform our evaluation of social arrangements. Many approaches to poverty reduction stress the need for empowerment. This paper reviews subjective quantitative measures of human agency at the individual level. It introduces large-scale cross-cultural psychological studies of self-direction, of autonomy, of self-efficacy, and of self-determination. Such studies and approaches have largely developed along an independent academic path from economic development and poverty reduction literature, yet may be quite significant in crafting appropriate indicators of individual empowerment or human agency. The purpose of this paper is to note avenues of collaborative enquiry that might be fruitful to develop.

Key words

Measurement Freedom Agency Empowerment Capability Approach Autonomy 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabina Alkire
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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