Multidimensional Wellbeing Inequality in a Developing Country: A Case Study of Vietnam



Publication Details

Van Phan, P. & O'Brien, M. (2019). Multidimensional Wellbeing Inequality in a Developing Country: A Case Study of Vietnam. Social Indicators Research: an international and interdisciplinary journal for quality-of-life measurement, 145 157-183.


The widespread adoption of the concept of wellbeing in the social sciences literature has allowed researchers to move beyond a narrow economic focus on income and consumption as the primary measure of inequality and poverty. Although statistical measurement and analyses of wellbeing have become increasingly feasible due to the availability of rich datasets, the empirical literature on wellbeing remains deficient in a number of ways. In this paper we argue that it is necessary that empirical studies of wellbeing encompass multiple. Applying Sen's capability approach as our theoretical model we subsequently develop a modelling framework that applies the polychoric principal component analysis (PCA) method for the calculation of objective wellbeing and wellbeing inequality using household asset, education, health and housing dimensions. Findings from our case study of Vietnam challenge previous single dimensional analyses and reveal a number of layers to our understanding of wellbeing inequality in Vietnam. We argue that our use of polychoric PCA is especially suited to the analysis of wellbeing by explicitly incorporating the analysis of both cardinal and ordinal variables and overcoming deficiencies established in the literature relating to the use of standard PCA.

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