Income deprivation refers to earning low incomes or none at all. In other words, it refers to income that leads to poverty. On the other hand, capability deprivation refers to an individual’s lack of ability to achieve something based on their status.

Income is a monetary value aspect whereas capability is a potentiality aspect that may include creativity, know how, ability to innovate or create/invent based on one’s interests. As much as it is perceived that an individual cannot put into good use their capabilities without sufficient funding to make it a success, it would also be a waste of resources if the individual cannot identify his capabilities that will sustain or increase the investment. In such a way, capability comes first in order to avoid a wastage of funds. Give a hungry person fish (increase in income) to eat and it will help him for a day but teach him how to fish (explore his capabilities) and it will feed him for the rest of his life.

Capability deprivation as compared to raising low incomes is a better approach to finding ways to fight poverty. This is because it enlarges the perspective of identifying what causes poverty and why it exists. Lower incomes present major obstacles. Other underlying factors such as spending patterns that surpass the amount of income for whatever reason (luxury, health ailments) also contribute towards people living in more poverty (Nussbaum, 2003). In this case, even with an increase in income, poverty will not be eradicated.

The unique capabilities amongst individuals reduce the competitiveness, as each unique capability brings about a different achievement, thus acting as a motivating factor. In case income is the motivating factor, there is fierce competition amongst everyone. As a result, there are no attached personal benefits which act as a driving force for self-actualization. A sizable percentage of income will end up being spent on medical bills to control stress levels brought about by physically overworking oneself and by trying to out-beat a majority instead of enjoying one’s hard work. Poverty is, therefore, not eradicated but maintained.

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To continue, even with a low income, some individuals have been able to gradually grow the amount of income through smart investments. The ability to create, grow and maintain an investment works as an added advantage for an individual better than a one-time increase in income that will not match the constant increase of needs over time. Individual needs and wants keep changing, and aspects such as a better life style may not be satisfied or maintained by a frequent increase in income. This is because no employer will increase an employee’s income frequently with an objective of minimizing costs and maximizing returns. Satisfaction will be achieved by one’s capability as opposed to an increase in income. It is, therefore, evident that the capability deprivation approach is critical in fighting poverty.

It is important to understand that poverty may be a general term, but it is brought about by different aspects. If poverty is caused by various aspects, then how can this issue be solved with only one solution? Some individuals have been born and raised in poverty while others made wrong decisions and slowly sank financially into poverty. Being able to single out an individual’s capabilities will help to identify how to eradicate poverty around them in the best possible way.

Education levels play a major role in the eradication of poverty, as individuals identify how far to stretch their potential and in what field. Every single person cannot do what another can do. Identifying individual’s talents helps to realize their full potential. This prevents individuals from trying one career or business after another due to failure or unsatisfactory approaches that yield nothing or very little.

Nussbaum’s Capability’s Approach versus Sen’s Approach

Amartya Sen’s approach refers to an individual’s capabilities as an added advantage. He highlights the relationship between the level of income and the person’s capabilities. He acknowledges the interdependence between the two and further provides factors that affect both of them with reference to social justice, which is an equality consideration for individuals in regards to political, economic and social rights and opportunities.

According to Nussbaum, the ability to have good health is a key aspect when fighting poverty as it cancels out the question of low income being the standard criterion for poverty identification. Individuals who suffer from chronic or terminal diseases, even those with a high-end income, will incur medical costs which, in turn, sustain poverty. In this case, poverty is not related to a source of income, but to the incapability to live a healthy life. Sen agrees with this statement, as he addressed the impact of diseases on the level of income and poverty.


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A common agreement on capability deprivation between the two authors is the ability to control an individual’s surrounding environment both politically, economically and socially. With the ability to exercise power regarding these aspects, it promotes relationships between individuals which, in turn, reflect on the general cause of poverty.

The effect of social demographics on poverty and income deprivation is a major concern that Sen addresses (2011). The demographics include: ethnic background, employment status (employed, self-employed, unemployed), the age of the individual (child, teenage or the elderly), the gender of the person (male or female), and social obligation of the individual to the society (the roles played by individuals within a given society). “Swamp Nurse”illustrates how infant mortality and the children born poor are at a very high risk of being born to single mothers. Thus, this illustrates the incapability of the society to guarantee the social justice.

Integrity is an important aspect in relation to ability to work and achieve goals and objectives. The “swamp nurse” explanation illustrates the impact and relation of integrity to a person’s body by looking at such factors as rape and child abuse. These incidences occur more in a society where poverty is rampant. Children, even at the age of four, have already been abused and the need to rescue them before birth could be more effective. After research, it was evident that mothers who went through the nurse visiting program were less abused physically and in terms of rape as compared to those who did not attend the program. It then acts as a way of fighting poverty while referring to the capability of the individual.

According to Nussbaum, the play is a very important aspect when addressing the capability of an individual (Nussbaum, 2003). Play involves the ability to interact with others and use of recreational facilities, which bring about a healthy and non-discriminatory society. Jose, in the “Swamp Nurse” article, preferred the dirty kitchens as families would spend time together instead of the high-end clean kitchens where every family member is alone.

The ability to have an imaginative mind and the freedom of thought enables an individual to have the capability to create wealth. It entails the ability to exercise freedom of speech and/or expression. Fighting poverty will require individuals to air their grievances which, when addressed, lower the poverty line. In “Swamp Nurse,” women that attended the nurse visiting program got out of their cocoon and, as a result, were able to get out of homes and get jobs. Thus, they were able to sustain themselves and their children, leading to the wealth creation.

Emotions have been known to negatively interfere with an individual’s ability to make correct decisions, but, according to Nussbaum, capability deprivation, emotions create an attachment to people and certain things in a positive manner. This provides for dedication in whatever a person is doing. Luwana suggests Maggie to bear in mind that the most important thing in her life is her daughter, and that should be the reason behind her hard work.

The ability to identify what is right and what is wrong will help an individual to take the right path in the creation of wealth and maximize an individual’s capabilities. This beats the reasoning that low income is the main reason of poverty. Being on the right end of an activity while making decisions helps to bring about satisfaction. For example, an individual funding their activities using money obtained from theft do not put their minds into investments, but rather squander the money, which is leading to sustaining poverty gaps. Illegal/wrong ventures eventually do not generate an income that sustains a person in the long term.


It is, therefore, evident that other than a low income being the reason of poverty, this issue is rampant in the society, and an individual’s capability goes a long way in eradicating it. No single person is capable of achieving everything on their own, but an individual’s unique capabilities create an added advantage that can help to create a source of survival. The two approaches agree that capability deprivation is a more powerful approach, but also acknowledge that low income plays a major role in poverty development.

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