Well-being Evaluation and Contributing Factors

Pramono, Retno Widodo Dwi, and Johan Woltjer (2012). "Well-being Evaluation and Contributing Factors" Paper presented at the 9th annual conference of the HDCA, 5-7 September 2012, Jakarta, Indonesia.

The evaluation of well-being and quality of life in communities has been a key issue for development planning practice. Nevertheless, we are still lacking an adequate framework for expressing and operationalizing issues of well-being in a coherent way. This deficiency is especially related to the absence of a set of indicators, which is contextual to the social, cultural, as well as political circumstances of the place where a community live. There is a variety of indicators available, including GDP and HDI. However, these indicators have some limitations. In particular, indicators such as the per capita GDP or indices on income growth by definition are limited and generally fall short of articulating quality of life (Nussbaum and Sen, 1993). HDI was set to represent the whole concept of ‘capability’. Nevertheless, according to Kaley (1991) for instance, HDI is more as a linear concept portraying only the latest well-being/capacity, while leaving behind any evidence about when and to what extent human development has occurred, as well as the factors influencing. An alternative to evaluating well-being based on GDP, is the ‘capability approach’ (CA) proposed by Amartya Kumar Sen (2000), which depicts ‘levels of freedom to choose’ as a central focus for development evaluation. CA has been widely recognized as a useful evaluative concept for development achievement. However, how to operationalise it is still problematic. The main difficulty in the concept is related to the fact that the preferences of individuals are idiosyncratic due to personal, spatial, and temporal differences in situation. The central argument to this paper is that by using assets indicators, the Capability Approach can be operationalized to express contextual and relative characteristics for the evaluation of a region.

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