Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Amy Kind

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© 2016 Jasmine M. Cooper


This paper explores the concept of well-being both in theoretical and practical applications. When it comes to well-being policy, it is apparent that the government’s goal ought to be to maximize the well-being of the citizens within that particular society. In order to do so effectively, there must be a foundational understanding both of the concept of well-being itself, as well as how it functions in application. I argue that preference-based approaches to well-being, which often emply GDP as a key metric, fail to adequately reflect the well-being of a nation’s citizens. I suggest that the Capabilities Approach offers a superior approach to well-being both in theory and in practice. Though it is possible that there are other equal or better options, I find that the Capabilities Approach successfully reaches the genuine depths of a person’s well-being without allowing for one individual’s well-being to impede on another’s. While it is evident that the capabilities approach still faces a number of hurdles and room for development, I hope to have argued that it is a step forward from traditional as well as subjective approaches to well-being. With further research and development, it is evident that this shift will allow for development decisions that are unbiased, equally considering the interests of all citizens, and thus a step forward towards truly increasing the well-being of humans throughout the world.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.