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The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 1: Entitlement and Well-being$
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Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286356.001.0001

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Adapting to Undernourishment: The Biological Evidence and its Implications *

Adapting to Undernourishment: The Biological Evidence and its Implications *

Chapter:
(p.191) 7 Adapting to Undernourishment: The Biological Evidence and its Implications*
Source:
The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 1: Entitlement and Well-being
Author(s):

Partha Dasgupta (Contributor Webpage)

Debraj Ray (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286356.003.0007

This chapter argues that unless an extremely strong notion of autoregulation is employed, the methodology espoused by Sukhatme — who attacked the convention of choosing a benchmark for estimating undernutrition — is incorrect and the confusion between statistical and physiological thresholds invalidates the main argument. The chapter's biological evidence points to areas of the human system where adjustment and adaptation are distinct possibilities, and to areas where the system may move in the opposite direction. Furthermore, if adaptation exists, it is purchased at a cost. It is also revealed that the combination of adjustment, high labour supply, and a casual labour market can be disastrous in the long run. Moreover, people with low-intake history are progressively excluded from the lucrative long-term labour contracts. Although undernourished people though find place in casual labour markets, there is no in-built mechanism to reduce their undernourishment.

Keywords:   autoregulation, adjustment, adaptation, labour-markets

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