Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 9: Gender, Time Poverty and Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach: Evidence From Guatemala
Sarah Gammage Time poverty as one dimension of capability poverty How poverty is defined depends very much upon the purpose for which we wish to enumerate deficits or deficiencies according to the different characteristics that we believe are important for describing well-being. Following Amartya Sen (1999), conventional measures of poverty or deficiency, that focus on per capita household income or consumption and express these in terms of a money metric, miss important dimensions of deficits that affect individual freedoms and well-being. For Sen the foundation of poverty analysis should be the ‘substantive freedom’ or ‘capabilities’ that enable an individual to choose a life that she or he values. A focus on capabilities, especially as part of a multidimensional analysis of poverty, would vary depending on the context, the level and unit of analysis, the information available, and the freedoms considered. As both Alkire (2008) and Sen (1999) identify, there is no single list of capabilities nor a unique array of spheres or dimensions that describe these capabilities, nor techniques to combine these spheres that can be relevant in all circumstances. As a result, one of the strengths of a capability approach is that the researchers can employ multiple analytical techniques and measurements of poverty, selecting those that appear to be most relevant for the analysis they wish to undertake. The challenge in this instance is limiting the relevant dimensions of the capabilities under consideration. Alkire (2008) identifies two main criteria for choosing those dimensions of the relevant capabilities for an...
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