Measuring Housing Inequality with the Value of Freedom in the Capability Approach: Proposal and Demonstration

Boram Kimhur

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An ongoing question in capability research is how to incorporate the value of freedom into the measurement of inequality. This article proposes an approach to answering this question in the housing domain and its operationalisation. The approach places an evaluation focus to the conditions constraining or expanding housing choices in the dimensions of opportunity, security, and ability. For operationalisation, the study designed a measurement of multidimensional housing disadvantages (MHDs) using the Alkire-Foster method and data from the Netherlands. Indicators include the entitlement to housing tenure options, vulnerability in housing cost payments, and ability to plan finance for housing. The measurement outcome demonstrates that the MHDs measurement can provide information on whose housing choices are more intensely constrained, thus having a lower capability for housing, and whose current housing situation is likely a result of coerced choices. The findings indicate that adults living with housemates or family (latent households), youths, and those with precarious jobs have a significantly lower capability for housing compared to other population groups. This article also compares the freedom-oriented measure of MHDs with functioning-oriented and other conventional measures and discusses its distinguishing properties. This comparison suggests a need to revisit current policy priorities in addressing housing inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-256
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • capability approach
  • freedom
  • inequality
  • multidimensional measurement
  • housing
  • capability for housing


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