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The capabilities approach to economic progress and human welfare

Dates: 2011-2014
Funding: Leverhulme Trust
HERC Investigators: Prof Paul Anand (Open University & HERC), Prof Alastair Gray, Dr Laurence Roope
& Advisors:
Prof Judit Simon (University of Vienna), Prof Ron Smith (Birkbeck College London), Dr Ian Crawford (University of Oxford), Prof James Heckman (University of Chicago), Prof Jaya Krishnakumar (University of Geneva)
Information: Paul Anand

In the Capabilities Measurement Project, we explore ways in which welfare outcomes such as happiness, opportunities and a wide variety of ‘quality of life’ indicators can be measured and analysed. The project is inspired by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s ‘Capabilities Approach’ to welfare economics, which we attempt to operationalise through the collection and analysis of appropriate data.

The project, which has been running for more than a decade, constitutes a longstanding collaboration between a number of institutions and has received generous funding from several different sources.

In the current phase of the project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, we are developing and analysing data on the capabilities, life satisfaction and daily activities of working age adults in the UK, US and Italy. Through the use of secondary datasets, we are also conducting research that sheds light on quality of life at both ends of the age spectrum. Part of this research, relating to the development and happiness of children aged 2-3 years, was recently presented at the OECD headquarters in Paris and has received significant press coverage (see below).

Forthcoming Event

International Health Conference 2015 - a date for your diaries

The conference is open to researchers from around the world with interests in any areas of health, particularly: acute, primary, public, health economics, psychology, statistics or social science, policy, health services delivery, knowledge exchange and research utilisation.

Date and time: from 5pm on Thursday 25 June 2015 until 5pm on Saturday 27 June 2015

Venue: St. Hugh’s College, Oxford

Further information is available at

Recent Presentations

3 July 2013
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Universities conference, Paris ‘An Economic Analysis of Child Development and Happiness’ (Presented by Laurence Roope & co-authored with Paul Anand).

For further background information on our current activities please visit the Open University project website.