Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Thomas Massaro, SJ


This thesis proposes normative criteria of individual and social welfare to evaluate poverty alleviation programs. Since World War II, both governments and NGOs have implemented a variety of development projects to address the poverty of individuals and groups around the world. The emerging field of impact evaluation applies a methodology borrowed from clinical drug trials to measure the effect of these projects on the populations that they serve. Sixty years of the history of development reveal that despite the sophistication of the statistical techniques, the field cannot offer basic guidance on what outcomes to measure.

In response, this thesis develops a set of criteria that integrates resources from development economics, Catholic Social Teaching, the capability approach of Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, and the political philosophy of John Rawls. First, it proposes five criteria of individual welfare that these fields all share: human dignity, political rights, socio-economic rights, internal goods, and agency. Next, it proposes five criteria of social welfare by integrating complementary themes from different fields: social welfare and the common good, solidarity and social capital, subsidiarity and smallscale development, extractive institutions and mutual relationships, and authentic development as growth in vulnerability.

Finally, it applies these criteria to a case study of indigenous coffee growers in Chiapas, Mexico to compare the effects of Mexican government social programs, the fair trade coffee movement, and the value chain reform proposed by the Batsil Maya coffee cooperative that is sponsored by the Jesuit mission of Bachajón. Using these criteria, it judges that the work of Batsil Maya represents more authentic human development than the other two approaches because of 1) its integration with other mission projects that encompass all aspects of the lives of the Tseltales; 2) the way it addresses the structural forces responsible for Tseltal poverty; 3) the reciprocal relationships of mutuality that it fosters among all those who collaborate in the project.

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