Religion and Human Development: revisiting religious indicators from the capabilities perspective

Romero, Catalina (2014). 'Religion and Human Development: revisiting religious indicators from the capabilities perspective' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

In Latin America, Theology of Liberation has played an important role in promoting empowerment and individual and collective agency among the poor. It has also considered poverty as a multidimensional category involving ethnic identities, gender awareness, socio-economic and regional exclusion. Such theological approach continues to generate critical thinking in religious communities confronting situations of change particularly those resulting from economic and political crisis leading to more poverty or to unequal prosperity.

Religious beliefs  and practices have been recognized by the Human Development and Capabilities approach as aspects of freedom in need of proper consideration. Sabina Alkire  (2004), and Severine Deneulin (2009), incorporate religion as an important factor to consider, both in favor of development as freedom, in politics, human rights and wellbeing,  or against them. 

In Latin America, recent research (WVS, Pew Religion and Public Life project, Latinobarometer,  and local surveys) provide indicators and data to quantify the presence and diversity of religion, using different approaches to study and measure religious dimensions


Looking from the perspective of Human Development and capabilities, I will discuss concepts and indicators used in current surveys and research to study religions looking for its relation to human development.  I will identify different dimensions considered in measurement religions, and select the most relevant for dimensions in the capability approach, as agency, empowerment, freedom and well-being.


I will look for indicators of the influence of religion in the lives of people, groups, organizations and societies that are meaningful for a human development perspective.

Key words: Religion, capabilities, indicators, Latin America 

Alkire , Sabine 2004. Religion and Development, in Clark, David Alexander ed. , The Elgar Companion to Development Studies , p 502-510 . Cheltenham : Edward Elgar, 2006.

Deneulin, Severine and Sarah White 2009. Culture and Religión, An Introduction to the Human Development and Capability Approach. Freedom and Agency. S. Deneulin and L. Shahani (editors). Ottawa: Earthscan, pp 246-272


Romero, Catalina  Religion and Public Spaces, In Hagopian, Frances. Notre Dame University Press, 2008


Samman , E. (2007 ) , ' Psychological and Subjective wellbeing : A proposal for Internationally comparable indicators' , Oxford Development Studies 35:4 , p. 459-486 .

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