Essays on social capital and welfare measurements

Thesis presented publicly by Rakesh Gupta (Université Paris-1 Panthéon Sorbonne) on July 17 2018

Welfare economics in a behavioral world is gaining increasing traction for research in economics and social sciences at large. Especially the last three decades, ever more research efforts have been directed to understand welfare better. Social capital has been one of the prime candidates and now a domain of research. Research is undertaken to understand its importance, how it operates, and what impact it has on the well-being of an individual and the health of a society. The capabilities approach developed by Amartya Sen highlights the fundamental role of economic development that focuses on the improving individual capabilities and expanding choice sets of each individual. However, this capability approach is individual-centric and inadvertently leaves out the shared or the collective nature of an individual’s existence. The social networks/interconnectedness is not addressed in the capability approach of Sen. At the same time, the social networks embody the mobilization of individuals in groups, association, and civic action. This aspect is developed by Giraud et al. (2013), called the relational capability approach. Another major research domain that cannot be neglected in the economic or human development evaluation is happiness (or subjective well-being). The concept of subject well-being is closely related to the social capital domain. In the literature, these concepts of social capital, relational capabilities, subjective well-being and development, and especially the linkages between them are not well explored or explicitly studied. This is the primary motivation for this dissertation.