If you only read one thing this week…

Development as Freedom – book review by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

Amartya Sen is a leading political economist who was influential in designing the UNDP Human Development Index and in recent reform of World Bank practices. Here, he tries his hand at answering the question 'What is Development?'

Sen presents a compelling alternative to the dichotomies of ruthless free-marketism or stifling authoritarianism. He argues, somewhat provocatively, but for the most part convincingly, that 'capabilities' (substantive human freedoms like open dialogue, civil freedoms and political liberties) are both the results and definition of sustainable development, and the necessary building blocks of it.

While not without his detractors (especially in his relatively uncritical acceptance of the idea that economic freedom automatically leads to development), Sen is definitely one of the most influential thinkers on development economics, and it's probably worth spending a plane ride familiarizing yourself with this one if you haven't already.

Some of the more interesting ideas to mull over are around his extensive work on famine, which can be boiled down to his claim that "No substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press".

For an interesting interview with Sen in the Asia Source, see

To buy this book from an independent bookseller who will ship, try Powells.com: http://www.powells.com/biblio/65-0375406190-2 (this is not an affiliate link, we make no money from it)


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