Past Projects

The dominant paradigm of neoclassic economics has long argued that economic growth of national income determines development and improvement in wellbeing 1 Unfortunately, current approaches have failed to improve the livelihoods or provide relief to a large portion of the population of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) that are vulnerable to shocks that threaten wellbeing 2. The ‘trickle-down’ to the poor promised by neoclassical economics has hardly occurred: 2.2 billion people (15% of humanity) are living in or close to poverty and 842 million (12%) suffer from chronic hunger, 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by conflict 3. Vulnerable people (women alone with children, migrants, indigenous and minority ethnic and religious groups, refugees, persons with disabilities, etc.) are at the lower end of the inequity spectrum. Among these, persons with disabilities are particularly at risk of poverty, as demonstrated by a small but growing body of evidence 4. It is estimated that more than one billion people have a disability, 80% of whom live in LMICs and nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning 5.

The human development  paradigm is centered on concerns of human dignity and respect of human rights; people are thus considered as both means and ends of development 6. The associated Capability Approach, through its focus on enhancing individual freedoms, provides a new impetus to focus development programs and policies on equality of opportunities and empowerment 7. To date the body of research that comprehensively unpacks the complexity of disability using the Capability Approach remains extremely limited 8.The research projects of Jean-Francois Trani and colleagues was developed across 17 countries around the world (see map) since 1994. The research team focuses in designing and conducting large-scale population-based surveys supplemented by focus group discussions and qualitative, in-depth interviews particularly in challenging environments such as conflict or post-conflict countries. Most of the research projects uses a Capability Approach perspective and are listed here:



  1. Acemoglu, D., et al. (2005) Handbook of Economic Growth.
  2. Banerjee, A., & Dufluo, E. (2011). Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: Public affairs.
  3. United Nations Development Programme (2014).Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. United Nations Development Programme.
  4. Mitra, S.,Posarac, A.,  & Vick, B.(2013). Disability and Poverty in Developing Countries: A Multidimensional Study. World Development 41(1):1-18.
  5. World Health Organization, and World Bank (2011).World report on disability. World Health Organization
  6.  Ul Haq, M. (1992). Human development in a changing world: United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report Office.
  7. Sen, A. K. (1982).Equality of What? In Choice, Welfare and Measurement. Oxford: Blackwell.;  Sen, A. K.(1992).Inequality Re-examined. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  8. Burchardt, T. (2004).Capabilities and disability: The capabilities framework and the social model of disability. Disability and Society 19(7):735-751. ; Mitra, S. (2006).The capability approach and disability. Journal of Disability Policy Studies 16(4):236-247. ; Palmer, M.(2011).Disability and poverty: A conceptual review. Journal of Disability Policy Studies 21(4):210-218. ; Terzi, L. (2003).A Capability Perspective on Impairment, Disability and Special Needs: Towards Social Justice in Education. In Sustainable Development to Sustainable Freedom, 3rd Conference on the Capability Approach. University of Pavia, Italy. ; Terzi, L.(2005).A capability perspective on impairment, disability and special needs. Theory and Research in Education 3(2):197-223.