IKD Projects

The Capabilities Measurement Project


Prof Paul Anand (Project Director), The Open University and Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford
Cristina Santos, The Open University
Graham Hunter, PhD Student, The Open University
Dermot Coates, PhD Student, The Open University and FGS Partnership, Ireland
Prof Ron Smith, Economics Department, Birkbeck College, London (Co-supervisor to Graham Hunter)
Dr Michelle Norris, University College Dublin, Ireland (Co-supervisor to Dermot Coates)
Prof Graciela Tonon, Social Policy and Law, Universidad Nacional de La Matanza and Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora, Argentina
Prof Keith Dowding, RSSS, Australian National University, Australia
Prof Martin van Hees, Philosophy, Groningen University, Netherlands

Honorary Doctorand of The Open University

Prof Amartya K Sen, Harvard University

Aims and Objectives

The project seeks to operationalise Sen's capabilities approach to welfare economics, initially by developing datasets that provide indicators of capabilities across a wide range of life domains. Building on collaborative work concerning freedom and decision-making between Dr Anand and Dr van Hees, the project has examined and developed a variety of ways in which capabilities can be measured consistent with both theory and methodological conventions used in household surveys. Currently we are exploring econometric issues associated with datasets developed and extending the applications especially in the areas of health, housing, safety, national surveys, welfare economics, poverty assessment and quality of life research. We are also supporting health economics groups in Glasgow and Oxford explore the implications of the capabilities approach for health measurement and intervention assessment.

In 2007, Dr Anand was made a Fellow of the HCDA in recognition of the project's achievements and it welcomes inquiries from researchers interested in using or adapting the multi-dimensional instruments or datasets developed. We also thank Amartya Sen and Hillel Steiner for their support.


Arts and Humanities Research Board - UK. Innovation Award for Operationalising the Capabilities Approach (2005).
National Science Foundation - Netherlands. Award to write Report on Genomics, Freedom and Human Agency (2003)
A project closely related to the AHRB project outcome, led by Dr Paula Lorgelly and Prof Andy Briggs of Glasgow University was funded by Glasgow Centre for Population Health 2006.

Related publications

Anand P, Santos C and Smith R, 2008 (in press) The Measurement of Capabilities in Festschrift for Prof Amartya Sen, Basu K and Kanbur R (eds) Oxford, Oxford University Press

Anand P, Pattanaik P and Puppe C, 2008/9 (in preparation) The Oxford Handbook of Rational and Social Choice, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Anand P and Santos C, 2007 Violence, Gender Inequalities and Life Satisfaction, Revue d'Economie Politiques, 117, 135-60.

Anand P and van Hees M, 2006 Capabilities and Achievements: (with M v Hees), Journal of Socio-Economics, 35, 268-84 ISSN 1053-5357.

Anand P, 2005 Capabilities and Health, Journal of Medical Ethics, 31, 299-303 ISSN 0306 6800 (1473-4257 online).

Anand P, 2005 Introduction, Social Indicators Research, 74 (1), ISSN 0303-8300 1-8 EDITOR OF JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE.

Anand P, Hunter G and Smith R, 2005 Capabilities and Wellbeing, Social Indicators Research, 74 (1), 9-55 ISSN 0303-8300.

Anand P and Dolan P, 2005 Equity Capbilities and Health: Introduction, Social Science and Medicine, 60 (2), 219-222 ISSN 0277-9536 EDITOR OF JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE.

Anand P, 2005 QALYS and Capabilities, Health Economics, 14 (1283-86) available online from 8 June 2005 DOI: 10.1002/hec.1002.

Anand P, 2003 The Integration of Claims to Health-Care: A Programming Approach, Journal of Health Economics, 22 (5), 731-745.

van Hees M and Anand P, 2003 New Choices: Genomics Freedom and Morality, Social Theory and Practice, 29, 607-630 ISSN: 037-802X.

Selected presentations

2008 Events

April 17: JAN PRIEBE (University of Gottingen). The HDI Reconsidered: Is the index on the way to one-dimensionality? (The Open University, Walton Hall)

April 30: PAUL ANAND (Economics Department, The Open University). The Measurement of Capabilities: Welfare Economics Beyond GDP and SABINA ALKIRE (Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Department of International Development, Oxford University) The Multi-dimensional Measurement of Poverty (The Open University, Walton Hall)

May 28-9: PAUL ANAND (Economics Department, The Open University). Beyond GDP and HDI: An Overview of the Capabilities Measurement Project. Measuring Freedoms Workshop at Linacre College, Oxford organised by OPHI, Oxford University

June 24: CAPABILITIES AND HEALTH WORKSHOP Organised Jointly by The Open University (UK) and the Human Development, Capability and Poverty International Research Centre. This event was help in Pavia Italiy on Tuesday 24th 2008 and continued our work supporting the application of capabilities approach to issues of health. Some 10 papers were presented and will be available via a link from here shortly. A copy of the programme is available from Anna Schenk, anna.schenk@iusspavia.it. PowerPointBeyond GNP and Current HDI: An Overview of The Capabilities Measurement Project. (PowerPoint document, 365 KB)


University of Barcelona, Spain. Economics Workshop on Poverty and Exclusion New York University, USA. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference


University Groningen, Netherlands. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference
University of Oxford, UK. Workshop on Multi-dimensional Poverty
University of Modena, Workshop on Wellbeing as a Social Gendered Process


UNESCO, Paris, France. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference


University of Pavia, Italy. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference
University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Health Economic Theory Workshop


Cambridge University, St Edmunds College

Project contact

Prof Paul Anand, p.anand@open.ac.uk

© The Open University   +44 (0)845 300 60 90   Email us