Assessing Capability Change

Sabina Alkire

in Valuing Freedoms

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199245796
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600838 | DOI:
 Assessing Capability Change

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The sixth and seventh chapters that make up Part II of the book consist of one practical and much narrower application of the capability approach, namely, a discussion of how economic analysis (cost‐benefit analysis) and systematic qualitative information on human impacts can be combined in order to assess the relative effectiveness of particular development activities in expanding human capabilities. This sixth chapter on assessing capability change first gives an introduction to Part II. It goes on to defend the necessity of efficiency considerations, such as those that are incorporated in cost‐benefit analysis and in project evaluation, and then looks at capability set analysis by reviewing two prominent participatory assessment methodologies that have been developed to supplement economic considerations with social data: one by the World Bank (participatory social assessment), the other as a result of US legislation governing public expenditure (social impact assessment). Both of these lack a systematic method for identifying changes valued by participants themselves and for devolving real control over a decision to the lowest level capable of making it, and this lack increases the chance of significant bias in gathering and interpreting value judgements. In response, a novel method of impact assessment is described that would complement and improve available assessment tools; the method of impact assessment represents one way in which the framework of the preceding chapters could be used.

Keywords: assessment of capability change; capability approach; capability set analysis; cost‐benefit analysis; development activities; economic analysis; efficiency considerations; human capabilities; participatory assessment methodologies; participatory social assessment; project evaluation; social impact assessment; USA; value judgement; World Bank

Chapter.  17911 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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