Martha Nussbaum, a faculty member at the University of Chicago, has won the very prestigious Berggruen prize for her work as one of the leading public philosophers. A major theme of Nussbaum’s recent work has been the development of the “capability approach” to welfare economics and to apply it in the policy realm.
She takes into account not only income to measure human progress but also areas such as health and education. One of her main arguments is that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is just not enough to measure human development because (among other reasons) it is an average measure. If the U.S. has the highest GDP, that does not mean that life is good for everyone. Indeed, it means that life is very very good for a few at the top and fairly miserable for a lot of others. Further, her theories state that people living great lives at the top will not somehow make everyone else feel better eventually. Her work also outlines that income isn’t even the key to a good life. There are areas around the world where people have great success in health, education and community but lower incomes. So, a more holistic measure is better to understand and make policy interventions to improve lives around the world for everyone.
Here is a video where Nussbaum is explaining the capabilities approach.
Source: Berggruen Institute