Human Capabilities and Instrumental Freedoms Relationship: An Empirical Investigation


  • Nour Eddine Aguenane Faculty of Law, Economics, and Social Sciences, Ibn Zohr University, Agadir, Morocco. Email:



Capability approach, Instrumental freedoms, Human development, Partial least squares approach


Purpose of the study: In Development as freedom, Amartya Sen confirmed the crucial "instrumental" role of five kinds of freedoms in the promotion of capabilities and therefore in the process of human development in general. These are political freedoms, economic facilities, transparency guarantees, social opportunities, and protective security. This paper has three empirical objectives: 1) to measure the effect of instrumental freedoms on capabilities, 2) to verify if this effect becomes stronger once instrumental freedoms are interconnected, and 3) to verify whether this relationship is moderated by the level of economic development achieved by each country.

Methodology: To achieve these three objectives, this article confronts the second-order construct of "instrumental freedoms" (as an exogenous variable) with five first-order constructs (as endogenous variables). The five endogenous latent variables reflect the capabilities of health, education, housing, employment, and communication and mobility at the level of the sixty countries selected as the analysis samples. The estimation of the hierarchical structural model is done using the partial least squares approach and the repeated indicator method.

Main Findings: This study highlights three major results: 1) The existence of a significant effect of instrumental freedoms on the five relevant capabilities selected. 2) When instrumental freedoms interconnect, they reinforce each other and their effect on human capabilities becomes stronger. 3) The multi-group analysis suggests that instrumental freedoms positively and significantly impact human capabilities in the same way in both developed and developing countries.

Research implications: Freedom plays a "constitutive" and "instrumental" role in the development process. To provide people with the freedom to live according to their aspirations, public policies must be empowering. In other words, they should improve the instrumental perspective of at least three essential freedoms: political freedoms, economic facilities, and transparency guarantees.

Novelty/Originality of this study: Apart from the works which attempted to operationalize Amartya Sen's capability approach, the relationship between instrumental freedoms and human capabilities has not been the subject of empirical studies. This paper is intended as a contribution to this field of investigation.


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How to Cite

Aguenane, N. E. (2020). Human Capabilities and Instrumental Freedoms Relationship: An Empirical Investigation. International Journal of Social Sciences and Economic Review, 2(3), 12-21.