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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2Society, Institutions, and Development$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.001.0001

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Poverty and Famines

Poverty and Famines

An Extension

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter 8 Poverty and Famines
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen, Volume 2
Author(s):

Ashutosh Varshney

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239979.003.0009

On famines, Amartya Sen has produced two seminal insights: why democracies do not have famines; and why entitlement failures, not food availability decline, cause famines. The two arguments have very different methodological moorings. Exploring variation in outcome — famine in China but no famine in India — established the role of democracy, but a similarity in outcome — four famines in Asia and Africa — was the basis for the claim about entitlements. This chapter extends outcome variation as a methodological principle to Sen's theory of entitlements. The argument that emerges supports Sen's claim about entitlements, but a new famine-preventing factor can also be identified: technological dynamism in agriculture.

Keywords:   famines, hunger, entitlements, democracy, dictatorship, green revolution, technological dynamism, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia

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