Social Indicators Research

, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 157–173 | Cite as

Capabilities, Subjective Wellbeing and Public Policy: A Response to Austin (2016)

  • Robert A. CumminsEmail author
  • Kenneth C. Land


It has recently been claimed that Sen’s capabilities approach can be used to advise the formation of public policy related to human wellbeing. It has also been proposed that measures of subjective wellbeing are inadequate for this purpose. These ideas are examined in relation to capabilities, using the same reference material as the proposing author. The theory of subjective wellbeing homeostasis is used as the alternative framework by which to understand the potential of subjective wellbeing for policy advice. This examination reveals an almost complete lack of evidence that capability measurement could fulfill the suggested role. While subjective wellbeing has more potential for this purpose, caveats to its employment for policy advice are also evident.


Capabilities Subjective wellbeing Public policy Measurement Homeostasis Theory 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2013S1A3A2054622).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of SociologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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