On Oct. 14, Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Economics Prize for his contributions
to development economics, including his analysis of famine and poverty.
Sen, 64, has often challenged the view, held by so many population doomsayers,
that lack of food is the primary cause of famine. His 1981 book, Poverty
and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, took up that topic
and argued that “famines have occurred even when the supply of food was
not significantly lower than during previous years” that didnt experience
Sen has personal experience with famine as a boy a famine struck India
when wartime inflation pushes food prices sky high, but as in most famines only
a small percentage of the population was at risk of starvation. “There
is hardly a famine that affects more than 10 percent of a population.”
Sen said. Sen argues that famines are easy to prevent in democracies where a
free press acts as a check on out-of-control politicians, whereas authoritarian
and totalitarian regimes are breeding grounds for famine because the elites
who run such nations are rarely affected by them and have no serious opposition
press or political parties.
Research on poverty and disasters earns professor Nobel for economics. Jim
Heintz, The Associated Press, October 14, 1998.
Nobel-winning work in economics was rooted in boyhood famine, winner says.
Bruce Stanley, The Associated Press, October 15, 1998.