Amartya Sen

Official Portrait at the Nobel Prize

3 November 1933 (age 76) Birth Santiniketan, West Bengal, India

Nationality

Indian

University of Cambridge Harvard University Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cornell University Institution University of Oxford Delhi School of Economics London School of Economics Stanford University

Field

Welfare economics, ethics

Alma mater

St Gregory's School Patha Bhavana

Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. Kolkata University of Cambridge John Rawls Influences Peter Bauer John Stuart Mill Kenneth Arrow Opposed Bernard Williams Mahbub ul Haq Influenced Kaushik Basu Jean Dreze Contributions Human development theory Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Awards Sciences (1998) Bharat Ratna (1999) Amartya Kumar Sen. Amartya Sen's books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a Fellow of Trinity College. CH (Bengali: g‹ÈŒá s— ‹” ›‘†. Time magazine listed him under "60 years of Asian Heroes´ and in 2010 included him in their "100 most influential persons in the world Early life and education . Sen was best known for his work on the causes of famine. born 3 November 1933) is an Indian economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory and for his interest in the problems of society¶s poorest members. He is a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. Ômorto Kumar Shen. He is currently the Thomas W.Presidency College. which led to the development of practical solutions for preventing or limiting the effects of real or perceived shortages of food. where he previously served as Master from the years 1998 to 2004. He is the first Asian and the first Indian academic to head an Oxbridge college. Cambridge. In 2006.

Sen¶s own college. but also because I found philosophical studies very rewarding on their own. K. and according to Quentin Skinner. and so does the study of inequality and deprivation). Cambridge. His maternal grandfather was an uncle of the first Chief Election Commissioner of India. thanks to its good ³practice´ of democratic and tolerant social choice. Subsequently in the same year. was a renowned scholar of medieval Indian literature. Mahalanobis. His family migrated to India following partition in 1947. the university town established by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. a close associate of Rabindranath Tagore. thesis. the then Education Minister of West Bengal. (Honours) in Economics and emerged as the most eminent student of the well known batch of 1953.[9] . was an oasis very much removed from the discord. then Cambridge was like a battlefield. During his tenure at Jadavpur University. Sen related the importance of studying philosophy thus: ³The broadening of my studies into philosophy was important for me not just because some of my main areas of interest in economics relate quite closely to philosophical disciplines (for example. Dhaka in modern-day Bangladesh. in modern-day Bangladesh.D. Dhaka. where he also earned a First Class (Starred First) BA (Honours) in 1956. Triguna Sen immediately appointed him as Professor and the Founder-Head of Department of Economics at Jadavpur University. he had the good fortune of having economic methodologist. Ashoke Kumar Sen. Sen's father Ashutosh Sen and mother Amita Sen were born at Manikganj. at the age of 23. Sen returned to Cambridge after two years of full time teaching to complete his Ph. At Cambridge he was elected as the President of the Cambridge Majlis in 1956. he moved to Trinity College. which was his very first appointment.D. Sen was a member of the secret society "The Apostles". social choice theory makes intense use of mathematical logic and also draws on moral philosophy. in 1959. However. A. Sen was lucky to have close relations with economists on both sides of the divide. as his supervisor. Cambridge. Meanwhile. and the ³neo-classical´ economists skeptical of Keynes. Sen studied in India at the Visva-Bharati University school and Presidency College. Dasgupta.´[6] To Sen. recommended Sen to Triguna Sen. That proved to be of immense help to his later research. he met Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis. and also the second Vice Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University. where he earned a First Class First in his B. West Bengal.D. on the one hand. Sukumar Sen and his brother. Trinity College. during which he took the radical decision of studying philosophy. which gave him four years of freedom to do anything he liked. Kolkata. Calcutta. on the other.Sen was born in Santiniketan. Subsequently. Sen began his high-school education at St Gregory's School in Dhaka in 1941. a former Law Minister of India. His ancestral home was in Wari. after completing his B.A. he arrived in India on a two year leave. Rabindranath Tagore is said to have given Amartya Sen his name ("Amartya" meaning "immortal"). after returning to Calcutta. because of a lack of enthusiasm for social choice theory whether in Trinity or Cambridge. another Indian Nobel Prize winner.A. Sen hails from a distinguished family: his maternal grandfather Kshitimohan Sen. Sen had to choose a quite different subject for his Ph. While still an undergraduate student of Trinity College.[7][8] During his time at Cambridge. who was then teaching in Benares. After Sen had enrolled for a Ph. His father was a Professor of Chemistry at Dhaka University and became Chairman of the West Bengal Public Services Commission. Sen won a Prize Fellowship at Trinity College. in Economics to be completed at Trinity College. He submitted his thesis on ³the choice of techniques´ in 1959 under the supervision of the brilliant but vigorously intolerant Joan Robinson. an authority on the philosophy of Hinduism. There were major debates between supporters of Keynesian economics and the diverse contributions of Keynes¶ followers.

but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. he taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Visiting Professor. His capabilities approach focuses on positive freedom. a period which is considered to be a Golden Period in the history of DSE. Berkeley. This staggering loss of life was unnecessary. However. Oxford. such as declining wages. These issues led to starvation among certain groups in society. Cambridge. famously proved that all voting rules. In 1998 he was appointed as Master of Trinity College. hoarding. Sen later concluded.[10]. Bihar. a book in which he demonstrated that famine occurs not only from a lack of food. and Cornell. they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything. Thus. India into an international university. informed by his interests in history of economic thought and philosophy. In May 2007. food supplies were not significantly reduced. Lamont University Professor of Economics. In 1972 he joined the London School of Economics as a Professor of Economics where he taught until 1977. rising food prices. while working at the RAND Corporation. Sen's interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. He has taught economics also at the University of Calcutta and at the Delhi School of Economics (where he completed his magnum opus Collective Choice and Social Welfare in 1970) [11]. be they majority rule or two thirds-majority or status quo. Sen published Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981). panic buying. nor the capability to escape morbidity. in which three million people perished. From 1977 to 1986 he taught at the University of Oxford. all connected to the war in the region. which seeks to revive the ancient seat of learning at Nalanda. In 1986 he joined Harvard as the Thomas W. Sen points to a number of social and economic factors. and poor food-distribution systems. but particular groups of people including rural landless labourers and urban service providers like haircutters did not have the monetary means to acquire food as its price rose rapidly due to factors that include British military acquisition. they did not have the functioning of nourishment. food production. while down on the previous year. and price gouging. In the Bengal famine. for example. In Poverty and Famines. was higher than in previous nonfamine years. He is also a contributor to the Eva Colorni Trust at the former London Guildhall University. Sen's contribution to the literature was to show under what conditions Arrow's impossibility theorem would indeed come to pass as well as to extend and enrich the theory of social choice. he was appointed as chairman of Nalanda Mentor Group to steer the execution of Nalanda University Project. [12] In January 2004 Sen returned to Harvard. he witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943. Sen revealed that in many cases of famine. In 1981. As a nine-year-old boy. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Stanford. unemployment.Between 1960±1961. a person's actual ability to be or do something. Oxford and then the Drummond Professor of Political Economy and a Fellow of All Souls College. [edit] Research Sen's papers in the late 1960s and early 1970s helped develop the theory of social choice. In Bengal. which are common in economics and simply focuses on noninterference. which first came to prominence in the work by the American economist Kenneth Arrow. must inevitably conflict with some basic democratic norm. where he was a Professor from 1961 to 1972. . who. rather than on negative freedom approaches. He presents data that there was an adequate food supply in Bengal at the time. where he was first a Professor of Economics at Nuffield College.

For an example of the "capabilities approach" in practice.In addition to his important work on the causes of famines. such as the availability of education. Other studies. though Oster has recanted some of her conclusions.[13] Sen was seen as a ground-breaker among late twentieth-century economists for his insistence on discussing issues seen as marginal by most economists. To Sen. women have lower mortality rates at all ages. as well as sex-specific abortion. Sen devised methods of measuring poverty that yielded useful information for improving economic conditions for the poor. they first must have "functionings. and the availability of information about individual conditions. was called the "conscience of his profession. He wrote a controversial article in The New York Review of Books entitled "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing" (see Missing women of Asia). such as one by Emily Oster. This is because top-down development will always trump human rights as long as the definition of terms remains in doubt (is a 'right' something that must be provided or something that simply cannot be taken away?). He mounted one of the few major challenges to the economic model that posited self-interest as the prime motivating factor of human activity. For instance. this concept is fairly empty. his theoretical work on inequality provided an explanation for why there are fewer women than men in India and China despite the fact that in the West and in poor but medically unbiased countries. in the United States citizens have a hypothetical "right" to vote. Sen's work in the field of development economics has had considerable influence in the formulation of the Human Development Report. justice and equity. In order for citizens to have a capacity to vote. While his line of thinking remains peripheral. majority rule. analyzing the mortality impact of unequal rights between the genders in the developing world. to the very specific. inspired researchers to turn their attention to issues of basic welfare." He argues that governments should be measured against the concrete capabilities of their citizens. Sen's revolutionary contribution to development economics and social indicators is the concept of 'capability' developed in his article "Equality of What. It is up to the individual society to make the list of minimum capabilities guaranteed by that society. For instance. particularly Asia. Only when such barriers are removed can the citizen truly be said to act out of personal choice. see Martha Nussbaum's Women and Human Development. Governments and international organizations handling food crises were influenced by Sen's work. even the policies of the United Nations. His views encouraged policy makers to pay attention not only to alleviating immediate . live longer. Welfare economics seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effects on the wellbeing of the community. such as transportation to the polls." These "functionings" can range from the very broad. This annual publication that ranks countries on a variety of economic and social indicators owes much to the contributions by Sen among other social choice theorists in the area of economic measurement of poverty and inequality. and make a slight majority of the population. published by the United Nations Development Programme. Sen claimed that this skewed ratio results from the better health treatment and childhood opportunities afforded boys in those countries. have argued that this is an overestimation. Sen." His influential monograph Collective Choice and Social Welfare (1970). who devoted his career to such issues. which addressed problems related to individual rights (including formulation of the liberal paradox). there is no question that his work helped to re-prioritize a significant sector of economists and development workers.

and political liberalism. In order for economic growth to be achieved. is an economic historian. such as improvements in education and public health. India. he denies the comparison to Mother Teresa by saying that he has never tried to follow a lifestyle of dedicated selfsacrifice[15]. and maintains a house in Cambridge. Academic achievements. for example. Sen believed that famines do not occur in functioning democracies because their leaders must be more responsive to the demands of the citizens. through public-works projects. a journalist and publisher. as. Massachusetts. Perceptions: In comparisons Amartya has been called "the Conscience and the Mother Teresa of Economics"[14] for his work on famine. They had two children. 1999: He received the Bharat Ratna 'the highest civilian award in India' by the President of India. Their marriage broke up shortly after they moved to London in 1971. an Indian writer and scholar. Personal life and Beliefs Sen's first wife was Nabaneeta Dev Sen. who teaches music at Shady Hill School. with whom he had two children: Antara. he replies: "I read a lot and like arguing with people. awards and honors Amartya has received many honorary degrees (over 80) from universities around the world. Eva Colorni. However. gender inequality. Asked how he relaxes. all including from the following: y y 1998: He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in welfare economics. Cambridge. a journalist in New York. human development theory. he married his second wife. In 1973. must precede economic reform. social reforms.suffering but also to finding ways to replace the lost income of the poor. A vigorous defender of political freedom. he argued. Sen usually spends his winter holidays at his home in Santiniketan in West Bengal. where he likes to go on long bike rides. ." Sen is a self-proclaimed atheist. Indrani. a Bollywood actress. welfare economics. who died from stomach cancer quite suddenly in 1985. and to maintain stable prices for food. and Kabir. and Nandana. an expert on Adam Smith and Fellow of King's College. he claims that this can be associated with Hinduism as a political entity. the underlying mechanisms of poverty. His present wife. Emma Georgina Rothschild. where he and Emma spend the spring and long vacations.

. Amartya. Sen. Amartya. 1970. Reason Before Identity (The Romanes Lecture for 1998). Economic Weekly. Elsevier. UK. 2000: He was awarded the Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service USA. On Economic Inequality. Drèze. Jean and Sen.y y y y y y y y y y 1999: He was offered the honorary citizenship of Bangladesh by Sheikh Hasina in recognition of his achievements in winning the Nobel Prize. (Expanded edition with a substantial annexe by James E. On Economic Inequality. Clarendon Press. Choice. 1995. Amartya. Holden-Day. Description and scroll to chapter-preview links. 1989 Sen. Nussbaum. "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing". 1993. 1999. Oxford University Press. New York. Foster and A. 2000: He received Leontief Prize for his outstanding contribution to economic theory from the Global Development and Environment Institute. Amartya. Oxford. Hunger and Public Action. Amartya. and given that his ancestral origins were in what has become the modern state of Bangladesh 2000: He was awarded the order of Companion of Honour. Basil Blackwell. Oxford University Press. ([2]) Sen. Sen. 2000: He was the 351st Commencement Speaker of Harvard University. Vol. 2002: He received the International Humanist Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. 1973. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Oxford. Amartya. 1997). Poverty and Famines: an Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. New York Review of Books. 1992. Hunger and Public Action. Poverty and Famines : An Essay on Entitlements and Deprivation. y y y y y y y y . Basil Blackwell. On Ethics and Economics. Oxford. Oxford. Sen. Sen. 1990. [edit] Publications y y y y y y y y y y Choice of Techniques. 14. Martha. 1960. Wider Working Paper 1. 1986. 1982a. Preview. Amartya. India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity. Description. Oxford. Scroll to chapter-preview links. 2003: He was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. Sen. 1987. Amartya. Helsinki. jointly edited with Jean Drèze. Inequality Reexamined. Norton. Sen. Collective Choice and Social Welfare. Amartya. and Sen. Sen. 1982b. 1999. 1973. Sen. 1981a. Welfare and Measurement. with Jean Drèze. 1962. Amartya K. He is awarded the Life Time Achievement award by Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) 2010: He was chosen to deliver the Demos Annual Lecture 2010 2010: He was listed in 'World's 50 Most Influential People Who Matter' 2010 edition of New Statesman. 1984. ISBN 0-19-951389-9 Commodities and Capabilities. Amartya. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Food Economics and Entitlements. 1989. An Aspect of Indian Agriculture. The Quality of Life.

asp?ArticleID=452 ^ http://nobelprize.org/papers/w13971 ^ COMMENTARY: THE MOTHER TERESA OF ECONOMICS BusinessWeek: October 26. 4. ^ http://www.ac.09. 12.php?pageid=172 ^ "60 Years of Asian Heroes: Amartya Sen".trin.pdf ^ http://www.htm .1984685_1984745_1985494. Rationality and Freedom. Sen. 19. Freedom.trin.in/writereaddata/pdf/PM_Global_Council_Notification_2.ac. Time. 2006. The Three R's of Reform.cgi?aid=00005503&channel=gulberg ^ World Bank http://info. 1998 ^ http://www. ^ "The 2010 Time 100". Time.cam. http://www.org/en/ShowArticle. 17.asp?EID=354&PID=688 ^ Press meeting http://www.uk/index.html. 7. Harvard Belknap Press.worldbank.com/show_article.2009. 2.facinghistory. Imperial Illusions: India. Sen. Harvard. html.com/watch?v=tVdAhzqFLps ^ http://nobelprize.y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y Sen. Amartya. ^ http://moia. Description and scroll to chapter-preview links.uk/the-festival/whats-on/amartya-sen An audience with Amartya Sen at the 2010 Edinburgh International Book Festival ^ Reported lecture http://www. Economic and Political Weekly. 1999. W. The Argumentative Indian. New York. Vol. 3. Oxford. 1999. 13 November 2006. Inequality Reexamined. 2005.gov. Oxford University Press. Rationality.28804.html.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1998/sen-autobio. Britain.php?pageid=321 ^ http://www. Amartya. Development as Freedom.com/time/asia/2006/heroes/at_sen.edbookfest. Reason Before Identity. and Social Choice: The Arrow Lectures and Other essays.youtube. 8.uk/index. Amartya.org/ ^ The Master of Trinity ^ http://papers. W.cam. 6. 2004. By Amartya Sen. Equality of Capacity by Amartya Sen The Idea of Justice Harvard University Press & London: Allen Lane. 40(19): pp. 11. ^ http://econdse.org/etools/BSPAN/PresentationView. Rationality and Freedom.com/business/1998/dec/28sen. (Review by the Guardian.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0. http://www. Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (Issues of Our Time). 15. 9.time.beijingforum.chowk.rediff. and the wrong lessons.org/node/246 ^ Self-proclaimed http://www.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1998/sen-autobio. 2000. 29 April 2010. Response by Niall Ferguson. 1971±1974. 2005. 14. 16. 13.co.00. London: Allen Lane. Review by the Washington Post) Sen. Other Publications on Google Scholar [edit] References 1. 10.nber.1. Amartya. (Review by the Asia Times) Development as Freedom. 2005. The Argumentative Indian. 2004. 18.html ^ [1] ^ http://www. Norton. 1999. 5. 2002.

newstatesman.50 People Who Matter 2010". April 2010. on Open Source (radio show) Amartya Sen in conversation on the BBC World Service discussion showThe Forum §   £ ¡ ¡¢ ¡ ¨   ¥¥¥ ¤ § ¦ . Amartya Sen discusses his book " dentity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny" on Thoughtcast Interview on IT Conversations Immigration and Development with Amartya Sen. ^ Harvard Universit . ^ " mart a Sen . htt :// .harvard.June2008.economics. Retrieved 28 September 2010. Retrieved 201012-07.pdf.com/ lobal-issues/2010/09/conscience-teacher-amart a-sen. "C rri l Vitae of Professor Sen".edu/facult /sen/cv/CV-Final. http://www. 21.20. New Statesman. [edi External links Wi imedia Commons has media related to: Amartya Sen Wi i uote has a collection of quotations related to: Amartya Sen Comprehensive list of articles by Sen Nobel Pri e Biography Amartya Sen: The Possibility of Social Choice (Nobel lecture) Profile in The Guardian y y y y Audio y y y y y Sen interviewed about his book The Idea of Justi e He discusses how prevailing theories of justice have led us astray.

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