published on Social Indicators Research 04 April 2017 (online first)
The paper addresses the problem of justifying ethically sound dimensions of poverty or well-being for use in a multidimensional framework. We combine Sen’s capability approach and Rawls’ method of political constructivism and argue that the constitution and its interpretative practice can serve as an ethically suitable informational basis for selecting dimensions, under certain conditions. We illustrate our Constitutional Approach by deriving a set of well-being dimensions from an analysis of the Italian Constitution. We argue that this method is both an improvement on those used in the existing literature from the ethical point of view, and has a strong potential for providing the ethical basis of a conception of well-being for the public affairs of a pluralist society. In the final part, we elaborate on the implications for measuring well-being based on data, by ranking Italian regions in terms of well-being, and pointing out the differences in results produced by different methods.