This article proposes a rigorous mathematical approach, named a reliability-based capability approach (RCA), to quantify the societal impact of a hazard. The starting point of the RCA is a capability approach in which capabilities refer to the genuine opportunities open to individuals to achieve valuable doings and beings (such as being mobile and being sheltered) called functionings. Capabilities depend on what individuals have and what they can do with what they have. The article develops probabilistic predictive models that relate the value of each functioning to a set of easily predictable or measurable quantities (regressors) in the aftermath of a hazard. The predicted values of selected functionings for an individual collectively determine the impact of a hazard on his/her state of well-being. The proposed RCA integrates the predictive models of functionings into a system reliability problem to determine the probability that the state of well-being is acceptable, tolerable, or intolerable. Importance measures are defined to quantify the contribution of each functioning to the state of well-being. The information from the importance measures can inform decisions on optimal allocation of limited resources for risk mitigation and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-424
Number of pages15
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number2
Early online dateJun 12 2017
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Capability approach
  • poverty assessment
  • probability
  • risk analysis
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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