Famines and economics

A lasting contribution of Amartya Sen’s 1981 book, Poverty and Famines is the recognition that famines can be created from multiple sources, including a contraction in aggregate food availability, but not confined to that. Indeed, Sen pointed to examples in which there was no such decline in the total amount of food available. The problem was its distribution over people and over time. Understanding and preventing famines thus involves the economics of poverty. Markets and other institutions play a crucial role. To read more on this, my paper, “Famines and Economics,” provides an overview of the topic.

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