Category Archives: Online Training Portal

Introduction to the Capability Approach

  • The history and motivation for Sen’s work.
  • Definitions of capabilities, functionings, freedom, and agency.
  • The connection between the Capability Approach and issues for poverty measurement.

Listen to audio

Video (with guide)

Guide to the video

00:00 Introduction to an overview of Sen’s approach and complementary initiatives

02:56 An overview of the key publications in Sen’s work, note that there is a large secondary literature.

08:49 Sen’s background

Part 1: Understanding the Terms of the Capability Approach

10:10 Introduction to the capability approach, unpacking the terms included in the capability approach (freedoms, functionings, agents, capabilities).

14:25 A definition of functionings.

18:42 The interpretation of the space of resource, capability, functioning, and utility with an example of a bike and food

28:00 A definition of freedom

33:07 A definition of agency, brief, not the focus of the lecture

34:58 The link between capability and agency

36:55 Sen’s process freedom

40:18 Common misunderstandings of Sen’s capability approach

49:37 Introduction to other key authors’ work on Sen; M. Nussbaum and I. Robeyns

52:38 D. Thomson’s application of the capability approach to her own family

Part 2: The Capability Approach and Poverty Measurement

55:08 The link between the capability approach and measurement, the notion of space, indicators are often achieved functioning, and not capabilities (see also Normative Issues in Multidimensional Poverty Measurement)

58:55 Question asked to reflect on your own multidimensional poverty measure

60:17 Link between MPI and the capability approach, and a discussion on the practical implementation of the capability approach – how the AF methodology allows for diversity with valued functionings (a k cut-off larger than union)

66:21 The capability approach’s relation to human development (and the HDR), they have the same objective

70:14 The capability approach’s relation to other conceptual framworks (MDGs, human rights, human security, happiness)

Unidimensional Poverty Measurement: Axioms, Measures and Dominance

Suman Seth

Video 1: Unidimensional Poverty Measures and their axioms

  • Introduction to the two steps in poverty measurement: identification and aggregation.
  • Definition of the different types of axioms (properties) for poverty measures.

Video 2: Unidimensional Poverty Measures’ fulfillment of axioms and dominance

  • Properties of well-known unidimensional poverty measures and policy implications.
  • Unidimensional stochastic dominance (dominance conditions and their connection to poverty measures).


Video Part I

Guide to video 1

00:00 Introduction

01:50 Introduction to the concepts of poverty measurement

09:33 Present three types of policy focus of a distribution of achievements; here focus is on the base of the distribution (poverty)

Part 1: Unidimensional Poverty Measures

11:58 Identification: who is poor?

16:37 Significance and definition of poverty line(s)

21:00 Aggregation: What is the level of poverty?

Part 2: Explanation of Axioms (or properties) of Poverty Measures

22:23 The list of axioms from Foster (2006), which properties do you want your measure to have?

24:16 Invariance axioms: symmetry axiom

27:21 Invariance axioms: replication axiom

29:22 Invariance axioms: focus axiom

30:27 Invariance axioms: scale invariance axiom

32:00 Invariance axioms: normalisation axiom

32:56 Dominance axioms: monotonicity axiom

35:48 Dominance axioms: transfer axiom

43:51 Continuity

45:56 Subgroup axioms: introduction

47:30 Subgroup axioms: subgroup consistency

51:16 Subgroup axioms: additive decomposability

53:04 Theorem of Foster and Shorrock for subgroup axioms

53:29 Advanced axiom: transfer sensitivity

Part II

Guide to video 2

00:00 Introduction and classifications of measures (basic and advanced)

Part 1: Basic Unidimensional Measures’ fulfillment of axioms and policy implications

02:27 The headcount ratio

07:11 The income gap ratio

09:59 The poverty gap ratio

21:18 The squared poverty gap

30:23 The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke class of measures, summary of measures

Part 2: Advanced Unidimensional Measures’ fulfillment of axioms

30:50 Sen-Shorrocks-Thon measures

34:07 Watts measure

37:22 Clark-Hemming-Ulph-Chakravarty Class of measures

Part 3: Unidimensional Dominance and Fulfillments of Axioms in Different Orderings

38:24 Which poverty line? (identification)

40:52 Which measure? (aggregation)

42:55 The dominance approach

44:15 Variable-line poverty orderings – order of stochastic dominance developed by Foster and Shorrocks (1988)

45:46 Poverty orderings based on the headcount ratio

49:44 First order stochastic dominance – including definition

52:31 What happens if the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of achievements cross? Second order stochastic dominance – including definition

57:37 What happens when the second order dominance curves cross? Third order stochastic dominance – including definition

59:10 In practice: limited range of poverty orderings

Further resources

Watch a presentation by Suman Seth on Unidimensional Poverty Measurement from OPHI’s 2014 Summer School in Oxford.