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The Capabilities Measurement Project


Paul Anand (Project Director), The Open University and Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford
Cristina Santos, The Open University
Graham Hunter, PhD Student, The Open University
Dermot Coates, PhD Student, The Open University and FGS Partnership, Ireland
Ron Smith, Economics Department, Birkbeck College, London (Co-supervisor to Graham Hunter)
Michelle Norris, University College Dublin, Ireland (Co-supervisor to Dermot Coates)
Graciela Tonon, Social Policy and Law, Universidad Nacional de La Matanza and Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora, Argentina
Keith Dowding, RSSS, Australian National University, Australia
Martin van Hees, Philosophy, Groningen University, Netherlands

Honorary Doctorand of The Open University

Prof Amartya K Sen, Harvard University


Leverhulme Trust, The Capabilities Approach to Economic Progress and Human Welfare (2011-2014)
Arts and Humanities Research Board - UK. Innovation Award for Operationalising the Capabilities Approach (2005)
National Science Foundation - Netherlands. Award to write Report on Genomics, Freedom and Human Agency (2003)
A project closely related to the AHRB project outcome, led by Dr Paula Lorgelly and Prof Andy Briggs of Glasgow University was funded by Glasgow Centre for Population Health 2006.

Summary and aims

The project seeks to operationalise Sen's capabilities approach to welfare economics, initially by developing datasets that provide indicators of capabilities across a wide range of life domains. Building on collaborative work concerning freedom and decision-making between Dr Anand and Dr van Hees, the project has examined and developed a variety of ways in which capabilities can be measured consistent with both theory and methodological conventions used in household surveys. Currently we are exploring econometric issues associated with datasets developed and extending the applications especially in the areas of health, housing, safety, national surveys, welfare economics, poverty assessment and quality of life research. We are also supporting health economics groups in Glasgow and Oxford explore the implications of the capabilities approach for health measurement and intervention assessment.

In 2007, Prof Anand was made a Fellow of the HCDA in recognition of the project's achievements and it welcomes inquiries from researchers interested in using or adapting the multi-dimensional instruments or datasets developed. We also thank Amartya Sen and Hillel Steiner for their support.


Anand, P, 2015, Happiness Explained, Oxford University Press (in press).

Anand P, Gray A, Liberini F, Roope L, Smith R and Thomas R, 2015, Wellbeing Over 50. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing [first online 18 March 2015].

Bache I, Reardon L and Anand P, 2015, Wellbeing as a Wicked Problem: Navigating the Arguments for the Role of Government, Journal of Happiness Studies [first online 28 February 2015].

Lorgelly P K, Lorimer K, Fenwick E A, Briggs A H and Anand P, 2015, Operationalising the Capability Approach as an Outcome Measure in Public Health: The Development of the OCAP-18. Social Science & Medicine, 142, 68-81.

Simon J, Vergunst F, Jenkinson C, Anand P, Gray A, Rugkasa J and Burns T, 2014, The OxCAP-MH: A Novel, Multi-dimensional, Patient-Reported Capabilities Instrument for Mental Health Research and Policy. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, Vol. 17, S21-S21.

Anand P, 2014, Measuring Progress in Terms of Quality of Life: It Can Be Done, Revista Internacional de Estadística y Geografía, 5 (3), 96-8.

Simon J, Anand P, Gray A, Rugkasa J and Yeeles K, 2013, Operationalising the Capability Approach for Outcome Measurement in Mental Health Research, Social Science and Medicine,187-96.

Bellani L, Hunter G and Anand P, 2013, Multi-dimensional Welfare: Do Groups Vary in their Priorities and Behaviours? Fiscal Studies.

Coates D, Anand P and Norris M, 2013, Housing, Happiness and Capabilities: A Summary of the International Evidence and Models. International Journal of Energy, Environment and Economics, 21(3), 181.

Anand P and Leape J, 2012, What Economists Do and How Universities Might Help, in What’s the Use of Economics, Coyle D (ed).

Anand P et al, 2011, New Directions in the Economics of Welfare: Special Issue in Honor of Amartya Sen, Journal of Public Economics, in press.

Anand P, Hunter G, Carter I, Dowding K, Guala F and van Hees M, 2009, The Development of Capability Indicators. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 10(1), 125-52.

Anand P, Santos C and Smith R, 2009, The Measurement of Capabilities in Festschrift for Prof Amartya Sen, Basu K and Kanbur R (eds) Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Anand P, Pattanaik P and Puppe C, 2009, The Oxford Handbook of Rational and Social Choice, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Anand P and Santos C, 2007, Violence, Gender Inequalities and Life Satisfaction, Revue d'Economie Politiques, 117, 135-60.

Anand P and van Hees M, 2006, Capabilities and Achievements: (with M v Hees), Journal of Socio-Economics, 35, 268-84.

Anand P, 2005, Capabilities and Health, Journal of Medical Ethics, 31, 299-303.

Anand P, 2005, Introduction, Social Indicators Research, 74 (1), 1-8 EDITOR OF JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE.

Anand P, Hunter G and Smith R, 2005, Capabilities and Wellbeing, Social Indicators Research, 74 (1), 9-55.

Anand P and Dolan P, 2005, Equity Capbilities and Health: Introduction, Social Science and Medicine, 60 (2), 219-222 EDITOR OF JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE.

Anand P, 2005 QALYS and Capabilities, Health Economics, 14, 1283-86.

Anand P, 2003, The Integration of Claims to Health-Care: A Programming Approach, Journal of Health Economics, 22 (5), 731-745.

van Hees M and Anand P, 2003, New Choices: Genomics Freedom and Morality, Social Theory and Practice, 29, 607-630.

Events and presentations

Impact / Dissemination


June: International Health Congress at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, attended by approximately 170 delegates from 40 countries around the world.

Focus Group meeting, 'Is access to credit associated with a higher quality of life for the poor?' Hong Kong. (View workshop presentation.)
Public organisations presentations and meeting in Belfast (NI government and Carnegie Trust Roundtable) and World Bank as well as ESRC workshop in Sheffield, HDCA conference in Washington DC, sociology seminar series Nuffield College Oxford, Winter School at Canazei.


Public and organisational presentations at London School of Economics and UK Government Economics Service.

Congresses, workshops and seminars in Turin, Sheffield, Birkbeck (London) and Athens.


The third international New Directions in Welfare conference held 3-5 July 2013 at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France. The 2013 conference theme was 'Economics for a Better World' and was informed by the work done over the previous decade by economists, statisticians and social analysts to develop broad measures of well-being. The conference was organised by the OECD, University of Oxford and The Open University.

Week-long visit and presentation to the GNH Planning Commission of Bhutan.

Presentation to Housing Agency in Dublin Ireland.

Meeting with Chief Statistician of India.


New Directions in Welfare conference organised at OECD in Paris (France). Interviews with François Bourguignon, Stephan Klasen, Martine Durand, Marco Mira d'Ercole and Mariano Rojas can be found at New_Directions_in_Welfare


November - Stop Poverty Plenary Talk, Italian Ministry of Labour conference in Palermo, Sicily Economics Department Seminar, University of Verona, Italy.


The first New Directions in Welfare conference organised at St Catherine College Oxford in conjunction with HERC, Nuffield College Centre for Experimental Social Science and Kellogg College to celebrate the 75th birthday of Prof Amartya Sen, FBA. This event was attended by some 130 economists from around the world.


17 April: JAN PRIEBE (University of Gottingen). The HDI Reconsidered: Is the index on the way to one-dimensionality? (The Open University, Walton Hall)

30 April: PAUL ANAND (Economics Department, The Open University). The Measurement of Capabilities: Welfare Economics Beyond GDP and SABINA ALKIRE (Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Department of International Development, Oxford University) The Multi-dimensional Measurement of Poverty (The Open University, Walton Hall)

28-29 May: PAUL ANAND (Economics Department, The Open University). Beyond GDP and HDI: An Overview of the Capabilities Measurement Project. Measuring Freedoms Workshop at Linacre College, Oxford organised by OPHI, Oxford University

24 June: CAPABILITIES AND HEALTH WORKSHOP Organised jointly by The Open University (UK) and the Human Development, Capability and Poverty International Research Centre. This event was help in Pavia Italiy on Tuesday 24 June 2008 and continued our work supporting the application of capabilities approach to issues of health. Some 10 papers were presented and will be available via a link from here shortly. A copy of the programme is available from Anna Schenk,

Beyond GNP and Current HDI: An Overview of The Capabilities Measurement Project (PowerPoint document, 365 KB)


University of Barcelona, Spain. Economics Workshop on Poverty and Exclusion New York University, USA. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference


University Groningen, Netherlands. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference
University of Oxford, UK. Workshop on Multi-dimensional Poverty
University of Modena, Workshop on Wellbeing as a Social Gendered Process


UNESCO, Paris, France. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference


University of Pavia, Italy. Human Capabilities and Development Association International Conference
University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Health Economic Theory Workshop


Cambridge University, St Edmunds College

The Capabilities Approach to Economic Progress and Human Welfare

Collaborating institutions

The Open University, Oxford University, Birkbeck College, London


Paul Anand, The Open University, HERC Oxford University
Alastair Gray, HERC Oxford University
Ron Smith, Birkbeck College
Ranjeeta Thomas, HERC Oxford University
Michael Wagstaff, YOUGOV


Prof Ian Crawford, Oxford University
Prof James Heckman, Chicago University
Prof Jaya Krishnakumar, Geneva University


Leverhulme Trust

The Capabilities Measurement Project and the OXWELL Survey

The project constitutes one of the latest funded elements of the capabilities measurement project. The project developed initially out of a contribution between economists, philosophers and social scientists and has been running continuously for over a decade. In our work funded by the Leverhulme we continue to explore ways in which welfare outcomes, quality of life, opportunities  and happiness can be measured and analysed. The OXWELL Survey developed under this programme is our latest survey instrument and it aims to explore the extent to which overall assessments of capabilities, functionings and happiness can be approximately measured in four overarching domains, work, home, community and environment and two cross-cutting domains comprising health and access to services. In addition, we are analysing secondary datasets that shed light on quality of life and both ends of the age spectrum.

Impact and Knowledge Transfer - The OxCAP Family of Survey Instruments

The initial OCAP survey instrument has been used in whole or part and modified for particular applications as follows. People who wish to use the instrument are requested to register with the capabilities measurement Project Director Paul Anand and cite the Anand et al (2009) Journal of Human Development and Capabilities article as the source any in publications. Thank you.

OCAP: Measures Adult Capabilities with Over 50 Indicators. Delivered in 2005 to approximately 1000 adults in the UK

OCAP-Sp: Translated into Spanish and tailored for use in Development. Delivered in 2007 to approximately 1000 adults in Argentina

OCAP-18: Tailored for Use in Public Health by Paula Lorgelly

OxCap-MH OCTET (Oxford Community Treatment Evaluation Trial): Employs some capability indicators in the evaluation of mental health application. Project led by Prof Tom Burns at Oxford University (2008-2012).

Poverty Conceptions Survey: Employs some capabilities indicators for assessment of welfare in Mexico (2010 Delivery)

ISFOL-2009 Social Exclusion Survey: The Italian Ministry of Labour has developed a survey which includes some OCAP questions.


This area contains the original OCAP survey instrument developed with funding from AHRB as well as the results of its application to a national British sample of adults. Researchers and others are encouraged to use our instrument and data but we ask that you acknowledge the source as the 2009 Journal of Human Development and Capabilities paper listed above. We are more than happy to talk to people considering drawing on this work.


Prof Paul Anand,

Contact us

To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:

International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1908 858502