A Capability Approach to Child Growth

  • Sepideh Yousefzadeh
  • Mario Biggeri
  • Caterina Arciprete
  • Hinke Haisma


For decades, child growth monitoring has been performed by measuring anthropometric indicators and comparing them against universal standards. Since the 1970s various efforts have been made to expand the focus from anthropometric indicators and include broader contextual and structural factors that influence children’s growth. However, those efforts have so far not led to changes in the dimensions that are taken into account in child growth monitoring. In this paper we introduce the Capability Approach asan evaluative framework for growth monitoring of children under five years old. Applying the CA helps focusing on what children are able to achieve by analyzing their available resources (endowments), as well as the mechanisms that could enhance or restrict their access to those resources (conversion factors). In addition, children’s growth could be assessed alongside the caregivers’ capabilities that children rely on to achieve their full growth potential. We present a child growth evaluation framework as well as a matrix, which has different categories of dimensions that interact with each other and ultimately shape children’s growth. The framework is a flexible tool, and is thus broad enough to accommodate contextual differences.


Child growth Growth monitoring charts Capability approach Multidimensional measurement 



This work is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in relation to the research programme “Normative indicators of child growth and nutrition – once size fits all”, the grant (NWO/WOTRO W01.70.300.002) was awarded to Hinke Haisma in 2012.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research CentreUniversity of GroningenGroningenthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.ARCO - Action Research for Co-DevelopmentUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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