Multidimensional Inequality and Human Development

OPHI Working Papers

The measurement of inequality from a human development perspective is fundamental. We start this paper by briefly introducing the human development approach and its main conceptual basis: the capability approach. We note that inequality should preferably be assessed in the space of functionings, requiring the assessment methods to use multidimensional techniques. We then present the primary challenges inherent to multidimensional inequality measurement that are related to two types of distributional changes: one is concerned with the dispersions within distributions that are analogous to the unidimensional framework and the other, unlike the unidimensional framework, is concerned with the association between distributions. We next present a succinct review of the most prominent measures proposed in the literature within a unifying framework and review the empirical applications surrounding these measures. We note that while multidimensional inequality measures have a great potential to contribute to the monitoring of human development, there are some challenges to overcome in order to fulfil this potential.

Citation: Seth, S. and Santos, M. E. (2018). ‘Multidimensional inequality and human development’. OPHI Working Paper 114, University of Oxford.

A later version of this paper is published in E. Chiappero-Martinetti, S. Osmani and M. Qizilbash (eds.), 2020, The Cambridge Handbook of the Capability Approach , ch. 20, ISBN 9781316335741.

multidimensional inequality measurement, capability approach, transfer principles, multidimensional association, normative framework, human development

Multidimensional Inequality and Human Development

Suman Seth and Maria Emma Santos
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
O15, D63, I32
Publication Number
WP 114