Capabilities for the Miserable; Happiness for the Satisfied

Author: 
José M. Edwards and Sophie Pellé
Publication Number: 
2011-05

The aim of this paper is to explain the process of diversification of normative economics by 

presenting the work of two authors: Tibor Scitovsky [1910-2002] and Amartya Sen [1933-]. 

While these two authors first contributed to traditional welfare  analysis from within, they 

were subsequently involved in the development of two different, and even opposed, 

programs: the economics of happiness and the capability approach. They focused on different 

concepts of well-being: the “joy” of satisfied consumers for Scitovsky, and the “capabilities” 

of deprived individuals for Sen. In imposing new theoretical frameworks, applications, as well 

as new concepts of well-being, which are measureable, the capability approach and the 

economics of happiness represent two major attempts to renew normative economic analysis.