Public policies for wellbeing with justice: A theoretical discussion based on capabilities and opportunities
Keywords:capability approach, equality of opportunity, individual wellbeing, public policy
This article presents a theoretical framework that combines virtues and strengths of the Capability Approach (CA) and Equality of Opportunity (EOp) approach for analyzing public policies that aim to improve individual wellbeing and social justice. We show that neither approach is sufficient on its own for this goal. It is particularly useful to combine the two approaches because the CA offers a positive way of thinking about what wellbeing is, while the EOp Approach provides more formal insights on how to configure public policies to achieve social justice and increase individual wellbeing from a normative perspective. We make the case that EOp in its original (ex-post) conception is too heavily centered on lifestyle outcomes and oblivious to individual heterogeneity. However, we argue that it contains elements that are compatible with the CA rationale from an ex-ante point of view. Individual efforts play a crucial conceptual role in our proposed combination because they influence and are influenced by individual capabilities. Our optimal policy for improving wellbeing with EOp is one that aims to equalize expected capabilities across different groups, characterized by circumstances, through a maximin algorithm. We provide a technical analysis of our optimal policy taking into account the influence of circumstances and policies on efforts and capabilities.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. The license prevents others from using the work for profit without the express consent of the author(s). The license also prevents the creation of derivative works without the express consent of the author(s). Note that derivative works are very similar in nature to the original. Merely quoting (and appropriately referencing) a passage of a work is not making a derivative of it.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).