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18 - The Distribution of Capabilities

Up, Down, Sideways and Along

from Part II - Methods, Measurement and Empirical Evidence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2020

Enrica Chiappero-Martinetti
Affiliation:
University of Pavia
Siddiqur Osmani
Affiliation:
Ulster University
Mozaffar Qizilbash
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

This chapter explores what inequality looks like from the perspective of the capability approach. ‘Sideways’ inequality — that is, inequality between individuals and groups in their risk of experiencing disadvantage — has been central to the capability approach since its inception, and we have tools such as the Equality Measurement Framework with which to systematically assess multidimensional horizontal inequalities. This includes examining differences in outcomes, in how people are treated, and in the autonomy they enjoy. ‘Up and down’ inequality — that is, how people are distributed across the spectrum between advantage and disadvantage, has been much less thoroughly investigated within the capability approach, and there are normative, conceptual and empirical issues to be resolved. In comparison to an exclusive focus on income and other economic resources, analysis of multidimensional vertical inequality is likely to alter who is understood to be most advantaged, how much advantage they have (the degree of stretch), and the extent of concentration of advantage in the distribution as a whole. Finally, inequality ‘along’ the dimension of time has become an important component of research on income inequality, and there are analogous questions about both short- and long-run capability mobility that we are only just beginning to address.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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