How the capability approach is applied to high-income OECD countries

Schneider, Friedrich, and Jürgen Volkert (2010). "How the capability approach is applied to high-income OECD countries" Paper presented at the 7th annual conference of the HDCA, 21-23 September 2010, Amman, Jordan.

The principal goal of this paper is to provide a first step of an overview of empirical Capability Approach (CA) applications for high-income OECD countries. It shall provide a basis of mutual exchange on relevant CA issues among researchers analyzing well-being in affluent countries. In this first step, we focus on CA applications related to general well-being, inequalities, poverty and human development in affluent countries. Abundant literature on group specific issues (women and gender issues, children and young people, disabled, unemployed , old people) and specific aspects such as health, education and CA based policy debates had to be excluded here in order to not substantially exceed the scope of a conference paper – but will be provided in Schneider & Volkert (2010). Based on our literature survey and an illustration of procedures and challenges of selecting relevant dimensions and referring to ongoing projects commissioned by the German and British government, we conclude that that stronger emphasis should be on assessing capabilitites, autonomy, agency and responsibility. We call for refraining from a data driven choice of relevant dimensions and of research topics and for strengthening the role of deliberative participation. We argue that these are pre-requisites to maintain a central comparative advantage of the CA for applications in affluent countries and to successfully investigate topics that may deserve more attention in the future.
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