27 Sens economic goals For Sen 1999 freedom not development is the ultimate

27 sens economic goals for sen 1999 freedom not

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2.7 Sen’s economic goals For Sen (1999), freedom (not development) is the ultimate goal of economic life as well as the most efficient means of realizing general welfare. Overcoming deprivations is central to development. Unfreedoms include hunger, famine, ignorance, an unsustainable economic life, unemployment, barriers to economic fulfilment by women or minority communities, premature death, violation of political freedom and basic liberty, threats to the environment, and little access to health, sanitation, or clean water. Freedom of exchange, labour contract, social opportunities, and protective security are not just ends or constituent components of development but also important means to development and freedom. Sen’s welfare theory relies not on individuals’ attainments (of basic needs) but individuals’ capabilities, an approach he believes can draw on a richer information base. From a feasible capability set, Sen focuses on a small number of basic functionings central to wellbeing. For Sen, living consists of the effective freedom of a person to achieve states of beings and doings, or a vector of functionings. He does not assign particular weights to these functionings, as wellbeing is a ‘broad and partly opaque concept’, which is intrinsically ambiguous. Sen focuses on a small number of basic functionings central to wellbeing, such as being adequately nourished, avoiding premature mortality, appearing in public without shame, being happy, and being free. This freedom to attain, rather than the functionings themselves, is the primary goal, meaning that capability does not correlate closely to attainment, such as income. One example is life expectancy, a proxy for health, which, at 77 years, is as high for Costa Rica as for the USA, which has an income per head nine times as high. Moreover, men in the Harlem district of New York City, despite the capability sets and choices available to the US society, have less chance of living to 40 years than men in Bangladesh. This is not because Harlem has a lower GNP per capita than Bangladesh, Sen explains, but because of the high urban crime rate, inadequacy of medical attention, racism, and other factors that reduce Harlem’s basic attainments. Although people in Harlem have a greater command of resources than those in Bangladesh, the costs of social functionings, which include avoiding public shame and participating in the life of the community, are higher for Harlem residents (as well as USA residents generally, Sen argues) than for Bangladeshis. 12 For Sen (1992: 102-16), poverty is not low wellbeing but the inability to pursue wellbeing because of the lack of economic means. He argues against relying only on poverty percentage or headcount approach (H) to measure poverty and deprivation, the 12 Sen (1973, 1981, 1987a, 1992, 1999); Sugden (1993: 1947-62); McCord and Freeman (1990). Sen was the inspiration and intellectual force behind the UN’s annual Human Development Report (1990-2004).
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