Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 5

Amartya (Kumar) Sen - Education and career, Important works, Family, Awards, Quotes, Works, List of main publications

welfare social economics cambridge

Economist, born in Bengal, E India. He studied at Calcutta and Cambridge universities, and became a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1957–63). He held professorial posts at New Delhi University (1963–71), the London School of Economics (1971–7), and Oxford (1977–88), then moved to Harvard. In 1988 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, UK. Noted for his work on the nature of poverty, famine, and social choice, he significantly advanced the social-choice theory by arguing, in his influential monograph, Collective Choice and Social Welfare (1970), that inequality ought to be a fundamental consideration in collective action. To this end, he developed several indices with which to measure the welfare of individuals in society, which have subsequently been used by other economists not only to compare the welfare of individuals across society, but also of countries around the world. In his 1981 book, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, he challenged the prevailing wisdom that declining food supply is the most important cause of famine. He concluded that there are social and economic factors at work which limit the economic opportunities of certain groups and so cause starvation. In 2005 appeared The Argumentative Indian, a collection of historical and philosophical essays. He was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics for his contributions to welfare economics.

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