Development as Freedom

Amartya Sen’s model

Pg 3

“Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as means to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of the society. But freedoms depend also on other determinants, such as social and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as well as political and civil rights (for example, the liberty to participate in public discussion and scrutiny).

Pg 4

“Freedom is central to the process of development for two distinct reasons.

  1. The evaluative reason: assessment of progress has to be done primarily in terms of whether the freedoms that people have are enhanced;
  2. the effectiveness reason: achievement of development is thoroughly dependent on the free agency of people.

Pg 10

“Five distinct types of freedom, seen in an “instrumental” perspective, are particularly investigated in the empirical studies that follow. These include (1) political freedoms, (2) economic facilities, (3) social opportunities, (4) transparency guarantees and (5) protective security.

Pg 10


“Freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means.”

Pg 11

“political freedoms help to promote economic security. Social opportunities facilitate economic participation. Economic facilities can help to generate personal abundance as well as public resources for social facilities.

Pg 14

“The ends and means of development require examination and scrutiny for a fuller understanding of the development process; it is simply not adequate to take as our basic objective just the maximization of income or wealth, ….

Pg 15

“It is sometimes claimed that the denial of these rights helps to stimulate economic growth and is “good” for rapid economic development. … Indeed, the empirical evidence very strongly suggests that economic growth is more a matter of a friendlier economic climate than of a harsher political system.”

Pg 19

“this is not to deny that deprivation of individual capabilities can have close links with the lowness of income, which connects in both directions: (1) low income can be a major reason for illiteracy and ill health as well as hunger and undernourishment, and (2) conversely, better education and health help in the earning of higher incomes.

Pg 25

“The relation of the market mechanism to freedom and thus to economic development raises questions of at least two quite distinct types, which nee to be clearly distinguished. First, a denial of opportunities of transaction, through arbitrary controls, can be a source of unfreedom in itself.

second… markets typically work to expand income and wealth and economic opportunities that people have.

Pg 27

“The shift in the focus of attention of pro-market economics from freedom to utility has been achieved at some cost: the neglect of the central value of freedom itself.

Pg 31

“Individual freedom is quintessentially a social product, and there is a two-way relation between (1) social arrangements to expand individual freedoms and (2) the use of individual freedoms not only to improve the respective lives but also to make the social arrangements more appropriate and effective.

Pg 31-32

“The real conflict is between

1) the basic value that the people must be allowed to decide freely what traditions they wish or not wish to follow; and

2) the insistence that established traditions be followed (no matter what), or, alternatively, people must obey the decisions by religious or secular authorities who enforce traditions – real or imagined.

Pg 33

“The motivation underlying the approach of “development as freedom” is not so much to order all states – or all alternative scenarios – into one “complete ordering,” but to draw attention to important aspects of the process of development, each of which deserves attention.”

Pg 38

“Political freedoms, broadly conceived (including what are called civil rights), refer to the opportunities that people have to determine who should govern and on what principles, and also include the possibility to scrutinize and criticize authorities, to have freedom of political expression and an uncensored press, to enjoy the freedom to choose between different political parties, and so on.

Economic facilities refer to the opportunities that individuals respectively enjoy to utilize economic resources for the purpose of consumption, or production, or exchange.

Social opportunities refer to the arrangements that society makes for education, health care and so on, which influence the individual’s substantive freedom to live better.

Transparency guarantees deal with the need for openness that people can expect: the freedom to deal with one another under guarantees of disclosure and lucidity.

Protective security is needed to provide a social safety net for preventing the affected population from being reduced to abject misery, and in some cases even starvation and death.”

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