Ethics and Economics Resources week 8: Evaluating prosperity

Additional resources for understanding the 3 conceptual approaches used in the Quality of Life chapter of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report.

Capability Approach


Amartya Sen, “Development as capability expansion,” Journal of Development Planning 19 (1989): 41–58. Link


The Capability Approach to the Quality of Life, Working paper prepared for the Working Group "Quality of Life", Sabina Alkire, October 2008

Ingrid Robeyns, “The Capability Approach in Practice,” Journal of Political Philosophy 14, no. 3 (2006): 351-376. Link

Subjective well-being

NB It is important to distinguish between hedonic well-being (how good or bad you feel at any particular moment), and life-evaluation (how well people think their life is going), since these can point in different directions (e.g. with regard to activities like child-raising and work).


Ruut Veenhoven (a leading happiness researcher based in the Erasmus Sociology department) The four qualities of life: Ordering concepts and measures of the good life Journal Of Happiness Studies, 2000, vol 1, pp 1-39 Link

(He also runs the World Database of Happiness.)

Fair Allocations

"The theory of fair allocations studies the allocation of resources among people with different tastes and

abilities, subject to a number of fairness criteria, such as “no-envy” (i.e. no agent should prefer another’s bundle),

“solidarity” (e.g. no agent should be hurt by an increase in available resources) and “lower-bounds” (e.g. no agent

should prefer the equal-split solutions)."


See e.g. H. Varian, “Equity, envy, and efficiency,” Journal of Economic Theory 9, no. 1 (1974): 63–91.Link


See e.g. wok by Marc Fleurbaey (who also worked on the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report).