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Poverty in the GCR: A capabilities approach

This is an ongoing project in which we seek to extend GCRO work on poverty and inequality by proposing the use of the capabilities approach. The capabilities approach was developed partly because traditional approaches do not adequately capture the diverse, plural, or multidimensional nature of human conditions and development experiences.

Using data from the GCRO Quality of Life (QoL) survey and selecting multidimensional poverty index (MPI) hot spots identified in recent GCRO poverty and inequality report, this project will use the capabilities approach to describe and assess the human conditions that perpetuate poverty in these areas.

The capabilities approach is a theoretical framework that entails two core normative claims: first, the claim that the freedom to achieve well-being is of primary moral importance, and second, that freedom to achieve well-being is to be understood in terms of people's capabilities, that is, their real opportunities to do what they value. The concepts of poverty, social exclusion and deprivation are widely employed but often problematic and Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach provides a conceptual framework that can overcome these problems. The capabilities approach can reflect the many ways that human lives are blighted hence offering a framework for poverty analysis.


A draft paper has been completed and currently under review.

Key partner

Dr. Prudence Magejo, School of Economics and Business Sciences, Wits University


Darlington Mushongera (September 2016). ‘A multidimensional poverty index for Gauteng: Evidence from Quality of Life Survey data’. 2016 Human Development Capabilities Association (HDCA) conference in Tokyo, Japan. 2 September 2016.

Last updated: 9 July 2019


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