In defense of standard welfare measurement


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This paper critically discusses Amartya Sen’s case for broadening the basket of wellbeing indicators in development policy beyond income and consumption expenditure. I first argue that, contrary to what Sen has suggested, the theoretical and practical motivations that he gives for this do not form a mutually complementary set. In the second, policy-focused, part of the paper I present problems Sen’s approach to measurement raises in the context of a case study from rural South Africa. I conclude by suggesting that development indicators should be regarded as narrower – in particular, that we should give privileged attention to women’s incomes – rather than broader. Keywords: development policy; well-being proxies; welfare; Amartya Sen Word count: 11,315..
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