Teaching Quality of Life and the Capability Approach

  • Paul AnandEmail author
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 79)


The chapter offers an overview of ways in which capability approach can contribute to the teaching of quality of life. A brief survey of some its key distinctive features is followed by some suggested areas where CA research sheds light on what quality of life requires. The chapter suggests such research is particularly useful for discussing the role of opportunities, freedoms and constraints on the quality of life that individuals achieve and experience. In addition, it highlights potential contributions to quality of life teaching by virtue of a capacity to connect structural social and economic drivers to quality of life outcomes. A number of papers are identified that could, individually or collectively, be useful references on graduate and undergraduate courses relating either to quality of life in a range of disciplines or to courses on CA that engage with the approaches interest in quality of life. As a result, the chapter offers new insights into how CA can now make a systematic and transformative contribution to higher education teaching focussed on quality of life.


Capability approach Quality of life Teaching 


  1. Addabbo, T., Lanzi, D., & Picchio, A. (2010). Gender budgets. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 11(4), 479–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Janabi, H., Flynn, T. N., & Coast, J. (2012). Development of a self-report measure of capability wellbeing for adults: The ICECAP-A. Quality of Life Research, 21(1), 167–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alkire, S. (2005). Subjective quantitative studies of human agency. Social Indicators Research, 74(1), 217–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alkire, S. (undated). Measuring the freedom aspects of capabilities, GEI Harvard University, Accessed 21 Feb 2019.
  5. Alkire, S., & Santos, M. E. (2013). A multi-dimensional approach. Social Indicators Research, 112(2), 239–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anand P., & Piketty T. (Eds.) (n.d.) Special issue in honour of Amartya Sen’s 75th Birthday. Journal of Public Economics, 95(3–4).Google Scholar
  7. Anand, P., & Roope, L. (2016). The development and happiness of very young children. Social Choice and Welfare, 47(4), 825–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Anand, S., & Sen, A. (1994). Human development index: Methodology and measurement. New York: Human Development Report Office.Google Scholar
  9. Anand, P., Hunter, G., & Smith, R. (2005). Capabilities and well-being: Evidence based on the Sen–Nussbaum approach to welfare. Social Indicators Research, 74(1), 9–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Anand, P., Hunter, G., Carter, I., Dowding, K., Guala, F., & Van Hees, M. (2009). The development of capability indicators. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 10(1), 125–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Anand, P., Gray, A., Liberini, F., Roope, L., Smith, R., & Thomas, R. (2015). Wellbeing over 50. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, 6, 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Anand, P., Saxena, S., Gonzalez R., Dang H. (2018). Can women’s self help groups contribute to sustainable development: Evidence of capability changes from Nothern India, Discussion paper available from authors.Google Scholar
  13. Anand, P., Jones, S., Donoghue, M., Teitler, J. (2019). Non-monetary poverty and deprivation: A capability approach, Discussion paper available from authors.Google Scholar
  14. Andreassen, L., & Di Tommaso, M. L. (2018). Estimating capabilities with random scale models: women’s freedom of movement. Social Choice and Welfare, 50(4), 625–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Arubayi, D. O., & Akobo, L. A. (2018). The capability approach and national development in Nigeria: Towards a youth transition model. Human Resource Development International, 21(5), 463–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Biggeri, M., Libanora, R., Mariani, S., & Menchini, L. (2006). Children conceptualizing their capabilities: Results of a survey conducted during the first children’s world congress on child labour. Journal of Human Development, 7(1), 59–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brouwer, W. B. F., Culyer, A. J., van Exel, N. J. A., & Rutten, F. F. H. (2008). Welfarism vs. extra-welfarism. Journal of Health Economics, 27(2), 325–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Burchardt, T., & Vizard, P. (2011). ‘Operationalising’ the capability approach as a basis for equality and human rights monitoring in twenty-first-century Britain. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 12(1), 91–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carter, I. (2011). Respect and the basis of equality. Ethics, 121(3), 538–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chiappero-Martinetti, E., Egdell, V., Hollywood, E., & McQuaid, R. (2015). Operationalisation of the capability approach. In Facing trajectories from school to work (pp. 115–139). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Coast, J. (2014). Strategies for the economic evaluation of end-of-life care: Making a case for the capability approach. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, 14(4), 473–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Coast, J., Flynn, T. N., Natarajan, L., Sproston, K., Lewis, J., Louviere, J. J., & Peters, T. J. (2008). Valuing the ICECAP capability index for older people. Social Science & Medicine, 67(5), 874–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Csikszentmihalyi, M., Abuhamdeh, S., & Nakamura, J. (2014). Flow. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Culyer, A. J. (1989). The normative economics of health care finance and provision. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 5(1), 34–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Cunha, F., & Heckman, J. (2007). The technology of skill formation. American Economic Review, 97(2), 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dahmen, S. (2014). The capability approach and sociological conceptions of human agency: An empirical assessment on the basis of an analysis of activation policies. Social Work and Society- International Online Journal, 12(2), 1–14. Scholar
  28. Duckworth, A. L., & Quinn, P. D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (GRIT–S). Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(2), 166–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ferreira, E. H. G. (2011). Poverty is multi-dimensional, but what are we going to do about it? Journal of Economic Inequality, 9(3), 493–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ferrer, R. L., Cruz, I., Burge, S., Bayles, B., & Castilla, M. I. (2014). Measuring capability for healthy diet and physical activity. The Annals of Family Medicine, 12(1), 46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Frediani, A. A. (2010). Sen’s capability approach as a framework to the practice of development.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fukuda-Parr, S. (2003). The human development paradigm: Operationalizing Sen’s ideas on capabilities. Feminist Economics, 9(2–3), 301–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hanmer, L., & Klugman, J. (2016). Exploring women’s agency and empowerment in developing countries. Feminist Economics, 22(1), 237–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hart, C. S. (2016). How do aspirations matter? Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 17(3), 324–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heckman, J. J. (2006). Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children. Science, 312(5782), 1900–1902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hobson, B. (2011). The agency gap in work-life balance. Social Politics, 18(2), 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ibrahim, S. S. (2006). From individual to collective capabilities. Journal of Human Development, 7(3), 397–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kabeer, N. (2018). Gender livelihood, capabilities and women’s economic empowerment. London: GAGE program office, ODI.Google Scholar
  39. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306(5702), 1776–1780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kanbur, R. (n.d.) Capability, opportunity, outcome and equality. Working Paper 2016–05. Ithaca: Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management Cornell University.Google Scholar
  41. Kleine, D. (2010). ICT4WHAT? – using the choice framework to operationalise the capability approach to development. Journal of International Development, 22, 647–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Krishnakumar, J. (2007). Going beyond functionings to capabilities: An econometric model to explain and estimate capabilities. Journal of Human Development, 8(1), 39–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mitra, S. (2006). The capability approach and disability. Journal of disability policy studies, 16(4), 236–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Murphy, P., & Wolfenden, F. (2013). Developing a pedagogy of mutuality in a capability approach: Teachers’ experiences of using the open educational resources (OER) of the teacher education in sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme. International Journal of Educational Development, 33(3), 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). Women and human development: The capabilities approach (Vol. 3). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Oosterlaken, I. (2009). Design for development. Design Issues, 25(4), 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pereira, J. (1993). What does equity in health mean? Journal of Social Policy, 22(1), 19–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Qizilbash, M. (1996). Capabilities, well-being and human development: A survey. The Journal of Development Studies, 33(2), 143–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Revallion, M. (2011). Mashup indices of development. The World Bank Research Observer, 27, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Richardson, H. (2007). The social background of capabilities for freedoms. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 8(3), 389–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Robeyns, I. (2006). The capability approach in practice. Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(3), 351–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ruger, J. P. (2006). Toward a theory of a right to health: Capability and incompletely theorized agreements. Yale J Law Humanit, 18(2), 3.Google Scholar
  53. Saito, M. (2003). Amartya Sen’s capability approach to education: A critical exploration. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 37(1), 17–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sehnbruch, K. (2004). From the quantity to the quality of employment. Berkeley: Center for Latin American Studies, U of California. Paper No 9.Google Scholar
  55. Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  56. Sen, A. K. (1985). Commodities and capabilities. Currently available OUP Catalogue.Google Scholar
  57. Simon, J., Anand, P., Gray, A., Rugkåsa, J., Yeeles, K., & Burns, T. (2013). Operationalising the capability approach for outcome measurement in mental health research. Social Science & Medicine, 98, 187–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stewart, F. (2005). Groups and capabilities. Journal of Human Development, 6(2), 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stiglitz, J. Sen, A. & Fitoussi, J.P. (2009). The measurement of economic performance and social progress revisited: Reflections and overview. France. HAL.ffhal-01069384f. Scholar
  60. Sugden, R. (1993). Welfare resources and capabilities. Journal of Economic Literature, 31(4), 1947–1962.Google Scholar
  61. Swist, T., & Collin, P. (2017). Platforms, data and children’s rights. New Media and Society, 19(5), 671–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tao, S. (2013). Why are teachers absent? Utilising the capability approach and critical realism to explain teacher performance in Tanzania. International Journal of Educational Development, 33(1), 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Terzi, L. (2005). Beyond the dilemma of difference: The capability approach to disability and special educational needs. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 39(3), 443–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tiwari, M. (2017). Exploring the role of the capability approach in social innovation. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 20, 1–16.Google Scholar
  65. Tonon, G. (2012). Quality of life in Argentina. In K. Land, A. Michalos, & M. Sirgy (Eds.), Handbook of social indicators and quality of life research. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  66. Tonon, G. (2017). Communities and capabilities. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 19(2), 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Trani, J.-F., & Bakhshi, P. (2008). Challenges for assessing disability prevalence: The case of Afghanistan. Alter, 2(1), 44–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Trani, J. F., Bakhshi, P., Bellanca, N., Biggeri, M., & Marchetta, F. (2011). Disabilities through the capability approach lens: Implications for public policies. Alter, 5(3), 143–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Unterhalter, E., Heslop, J., & Mamedu, A. (2013). Girls claiming education rights. International Journal of Education Development, 33, 566–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Unterhalter, E. (2016). Negative capability? Measuring the unmeasurable in education. Comparative Education, 53(1), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Van Hees, M. (2004). Freedom of choice and diversity of options: Some difficulties. Social Choice and Welfare, 22(1), 253–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Venkatapuram, S. (2013). Health justice: An argument from the capabilities approach. Malden: Wiley.Google Scholar
  73. Walker, M. (2003). Framing social justice in education: What does the ‘capabilities’ approach offer? British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(2), 168–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wolff, J. (2009). Cognitive disability in a society of equals. Metaphilosophy, 40(3–4), 402–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zaidi, A., Gasior, K., Zolyomi, E., Schmidt, A., Rodrigues, R., & Marin, B. (2017). Measuring active and healthy ageing in Europe. Journal of European Social Policy, 27(2), 138–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Philosophy Politics Economics Development and GeographyThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Department of Social Policy and InterventionOxford UniversityOxfordUK
  3. 3.Center for Philosophy of Natural and Social SciencesLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

Personalised recommendations