The poor 'r' us
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jonathan SibleyJonathan Sibley
In the past 30 years, writers such as Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have forced us to broaden our understanding of poverty beyond the idea of a lack of money. We no longer measure poverty merely in terms of income per capita; we now measure education, life expectancy, human rights and focus on well-being. We have expanded our development interventions from programmes focussed solely on increasing income, to a range of interventions focussed on capability and ‘functionings’ (defined by Sen as the various things a person may value doing or being). Yet, our discourse remains overwhelmingly biased toward money as the key between capability and well-being. Even Sen’s model continues to centre on money. He sees inadequate capability as often being evidenced by an economically driven absence of choice. In persisting with this approach, capability is not only linked to money, but is directly linked to the perceived primary outcome of exercising economic choice: well-being.