Lifetime Suffering and Capabilities in Chile

Dussaillant F., González P.A. (2015) Lifetime Suffering and Capabilities in Chile. In: Anderson R. (eds) World Suffering and Quality of Life. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 56. Springer, Dordrecht.


This chapter explores the empirical relationship between capabilities and lifetime suffering using a unique data set produced by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Chile in 2011. For this purpose, direct measures of lifetime suffering and capabilities were used. The capabilities we studied were Health, Income, Pleasure, Social Bonds, and Respect. Each of them is represented by an evaluation index that summarizes the individual’s subjective assessment of their capability endowment, and variables related to functionings, or achieved levels, in each dimension. Our models also include basic demographics (sex, age, and its square), positive and negative events in the last 6 months, and personality traits.

Standard regression techniques were used to explain lifetime suffering as a function of capabilities and standard controls. Results show that some capabilities are associated with suffering mainly through their subjective evaluations (Pleasure and Health) while others are predictive through their functionings (Respect and Income). Only Social Bonds is significant both through its evaluation index and through its functionings. On the other hand, as expected, age and negative recent events are positively correlated with suffering. Of the Big Five personality traits, only neuroticism is positively related to suffering.

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