Assessing capability instead of achieved functionings in risk analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A capability approach has been proposed to risk analysis, where risk is conceptualized as the probability that capabilities are reduced. Capabilities refer to the genuine opportunities of individuals to achieve valuable doings and beings, such as being adequately nourished. Such doings and beings are called functionings. A current debate in risk analysis and other fields where a capability approach has been developed concerns whether capabilities or actual achieved functionings should be used. This paper argues that in risk analysis the consequences of hazardous scenarios should be conceptualized in terms of capabilities, not achieved functionings. Furthermore, the paper proposes a method for assessing capabilities, which considers the levels of achieved functionings of other individuals with similar boundary conditions. The capability of an individual can then be captured statistically based on the variability of the achieved functionings over the considered population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Capability
  • Natural hazards
  • Societal impact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management


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