What is the evidence that increasing empowerment, improved enabling environment, and assets together lead to improved wellbeing?
The literature is very clear that economic factors are critical to wellbeing. Almost all research states the necessity of income, financial security or productive assets. Nearly all the literature also looks at personal relationships as aspects of wellbeing, which are here categorised as part of the enabling environment. Empowerment is usually seen as agency, the ability to utilise those resources or relationships. The contribution of assets and the enabling environment together to wellbeing is the clearest relationship, with empowerment an outlier with unclear interactions.
The literature is unclear on the relationship between empowerment and wellbeing. Both are highly contested terms. Some scholars see wellbeing, particularly psychological wellbeing, as a contributor to empowerment, while others see empowerment as leading to wellbeing. The WeD group emphasises both wellbeing and empowerment as processes rather than outcomes. The literature is in general agreement that autonomy, competence and agency are crucial aspects contributing to wellbeing, as these determine how people can exercise choice and control.
Browne, E. Wellbeing through empowerment, improved enabling environment, and assets (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1211). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2015) 19 pp.