Development as Freedom

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Development as Freedom
Development as Freedom.jpg
AuthorAmartya Sen
SubjectInternational development
Publication date
Media typePrint

Development as Freedom is a 1999 book about international development by Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen.

The American edition of the book was published by Alfred A. Knopf.


Amartya Sen was the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics.[1] Development as Freedom was published one year later and argues that development entails a set of linked freedoms:

Poverty is characterized by lack of at least one freedom (Sen uses the term unfreedom for lack of freedom), including a de facto lack of political rights and choice, vulnerability to coercive relations, and exclusion from economic choices and protections.

Based on these ethical considerations, Sen argues that development cannot be reduced to simply increasing basic incomes, nor to rising average per capita incomes. Rather, it requires a package of overlapping mechanisms that progressively enable the exercise of a growing range of freedoms. A central idea of the book is that freedom is both the end and a means to development.

A key observation in this book is that, "no famine has ever taken place in a functioning democracy."[2]

Canadian social scientist Lars Osberg wrote about the book: "Although Development as Freedom covers immense territory, it is subtle and nuanced and its careful scholarship is manifest at every turn."[3] Kenneth Arrow concluded "In this book, Amartya Sen develops elegantly, compactly, and yet broadly the concept that economic development is in its nature an increase in freedom."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1998". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  2. ^ p. 16.
  3. ^ Osberg, Lars. "Development as Freedom" (PDF). Comptes Rendus. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-12-03.

Further reading[edit]