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The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger$

Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286370.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction1
The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger
Jean Drèze, Amartya Sen
Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The third volume elucidates endemic hunger, illustrating the performances of various actions, and sifting the lessons for public policy which aim to eliminate persistent hunger. There are two different strategies — growth-mediated security and support-led security — which are used eradicate endemic hunger, and while there is a real contrast between the strategies, the extensive use of public support measures plays a crucial role in both instances. According to this volume, poor countries can afford extensive public support systems either by using labour intensive measures which make them cheaper, or by shifting resources employed to provide expensive services to a few to provide minimal basic services for all.

Keywords:   growth-mediated security, support-led security, public support, public policy

The facts are stark enough. Despite the widespread opulence and the unprecedentedly high real income per head in the world, millions of people die prematurely and abruptly from intermittent famines, and a great many million more die every year from endemic undernourishment and deprivation across the globe. Further, hundreds of millions lead lives of persistent insecurity and want.

While all this is quite obvious, many things are unclear about the characteristics, causation, and possible remedies of hunger in the modern world. A great deal of probing investigation—analytical as well as empirical—is needed as background to public policy and action for eradicating famines and eliminating endemic undernutrition. In this collection of twenty‐six papers in three volumes, serious attempts have been made to address many of these momentous issues.

0.1. Organization and structure

These studies were initiated in 1985 when the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) was established in Helsinki. First versions of most of the papers were presented at a conference on ‘food strategies’ held at WIDER in July 1986. In that meeting there were extensive discussions of the analyses presented in the various papers, and some of the debates continued well beyond the conference. The papers have been revised in the light of these exchanges, and of further discussions among the authors and the editors. A few new studies were also undertaken during 1986–8 to fill some identified gaps. This book of three volumes represents the fruits of these efforts. It is meant to be a wide‐ranging investigation of the causal antecedents, characteristic features, and policy demands of hunger in the modern world. The focus is primarily on sub‐Saharan Africa and South Asia, but the experiences of several other countries—from China to Brazil—have also been examined.

Though three of our own essays are included in these volumes, our role has been primarily organizational and editorial. We have, however, also written a monograph of our own, Hunger and Public Action,2 which deals with related issues, and there is a clear connection between the two works. The planning (p.2) and the design of these three volumes of essays, The Political Economy of Hunger, have been closely related to the approach explored and developed in Hunger and Public Action, and in turn, in that book, we have drawn on the results of the studies presented in these three volumes.

We should, however, emphasize the obvious. We, as editors, must not be identified with all the views that have been expressed in these essays. These three volumes of essays, which are mainly revised conference papers, present investigations and conclusions that deserve, in our view, serious consideration. But although we have been involved at every stage of these studies, and have also presented our critical comments on the various versions, it was not our aim to soldier on with requests for revision until we all agreed. The analyses and the views are those of the respective authors.

0.2. Political economy

The essays in the first volume deal with ‘general matters’—including the nature and diversity of the problem of world hunger. They set the background for the analysis of government policy and public action. The second volume includes studies of famines and of anti‐famine strategies, and altogether there is an attempt here to identify what is needed for the eradication of famines. The third volume takes up endemic deprivation and undernourishment, discusses successes and failures of different lines of action, and investigates the lessons for public policy aimed at eliminating persistent hunger. The different volumes, thus, deal with distinct but interrelated aspects of what we have called ‘the political economy of hunger’.

The meaning of the expression ‘political economy’ is not altogether unambiguous. To some it simply means economics. It is indeed the old name of the discipline, common in the nineteenth century, and now rather archaic. To others, political economy is economics seen in a perspective that is a great deal broader than is common in the mainstream of the modern tradition. In this view, the influences of political and social institutions and ideas are taken to be particularly important for economic analysis and must not be pushed to the background with some stylized assumptions of heroic simplicity. Political economy thus interpreted cannot but appear to be rather ‘interdisciplinary’ as the disciplines are now standardly viewed.

Even though the two interpretations are quite distinct, there is a clear connection between them in the sense that the dominant tradition of economics is much narrower now than it was in the classical political economy of Adam Smith, Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and others.3 Thus the old and archaic term for economics as such is also a reminder of the breadth of the earlier tradition of the subject. Many of the analyses of the kind that are now seen as interdisciplinary would have appeared to Smith or (p.3) Mill or Marx as belonging solidly to the discipline of political economy as a subject.

It does not, of course, really matter whether political, social, and cultural influences on economic matters are counted inside or outside the discipline of economics, but it can be tremendously important not to lose sight of these influences in analysing many profoundly important economic problems. This is particularly the case with the problem of hunger. The title of the book, The Political Economy of Hunger, is meant to be an explicit reminder of the need to adopt a broad perspective to understand better the causation of hunger and the remedial actions that are needed.

0.3. Endemic undernourishment and deprivation

As was mentioned earlier, the essays included in the first volume of this book deal with rather general matters that serve as background to policy analysis. The topics covered include the characteristics and causal antecedents of famines and endemic deprivation, the interconnections between economic and political factors, the role of social relations and the family, the special problems of women's deprivation, the connection between food consumption and other aspects of living standards, and the medical aspects of undernourishment and its consequences. Several contributions also address the political background of public policy, in particular the connection between the government and the public, including the role of newspapers and the media, and the part played by political commitment and by adversarial politics and pressures.4

The second volume of the book is concerned with famine prevention issues, with special attention paid to sub‐Saharan Africa. Three of the six chapters provide detailed case‐studies of famine prevention in different countries of Africa and South Asia, including both successes and failures. The other papers deal with more general strategic issues. These include, inter alia, the question of ‘early warning’, the interconnections between public policy and market responses, and the long‐term rehabilitation of rural African economies.

This third volume deals with the challenge of combating persistent want and hunger. Two cases of notable success—China and Sri Lanka—are discussed in some detail. In both these cases a major reduction of deprivation and expansion of life expectancy and related indicators have been achieved despite very low gross national product per capita.

In another book (Drèze and Sen 1989), we have compared and contrasted two different—though not unrelated—general strategies for eliminating endemic undernourishment and deprivation. The approach of ‘growth‐mediated security’ involves rapid economic expansion, including that of GNP per head, and the use of this achievement to eradicate regular hunger and privation. In this general strategy, the fruits of growth are widely shared partly through a (p.4) participatory growth process (involving, in particular, a rapid and sustained expansion of remunerative employment), but also through the use of the resources generated by economic growth to expand public support of health, nutrition, education, and economic security for the more deprived and vulnerable. In contrast, the approach of ‘support‐led security’ involves going in for public support measures without waiting for the country to become rich through economic growth. Examples of support‐led security include, in addition to China and Sri Lanka, such countries as Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Jamaica, and the State of Kerala in India.

There is a real contrast between these two strategies, but it is important to recognize that the extensive use of public support measures plays a crucial role in both. While public support is the primary and immediate instrument of action in the strategy of support‐led security, it is also an important ingredient of the success of growth‐mediated security. Indeed, in the absence of public involvement to guarantee that the fruits of growth are widely shared, rapid economic growth can have a disappointingly poor impact on living conditions.5 The distinctiveness of the strategy of support‐led security is not the use of public support to improve living conditions, but the temporal priority that is attached to this instrument of action even when the country in question is still quite poor.

It may be asked how poor countries can afford to have extensive public support systems. Part of the answer lies in the labour intensive nature of many of these measures of public delivery—particularly in health care and education—making them cheaper in poorer economies. But some of the explanation also relates to the scope for reorienting the focus of delivery away from providing an enormous lot—expensive and advanced services—to a few (the relatively affluent) to securing minimal basic services for all (including the worst off).6 Indeed, the fractions of their relatively low GNP per head devoted to public programmes of health care and education in China, Sri Lanka, Kerala, Cuba, and other adopters of the general strategy of support‐led security have not been remarkably higher than in countries that have treated education and medicine as the entitlement of the rich and the privileged.

0.4. China's record

Chapter 1 is an illuminating account by Carl Riskin of China's experience in combating hunger since the revolution.7 While a problem of undernourishment in many rural areas continues to exist, China has been in general (p.5) remarkably successful in reducing the reach and magnitude of undernourishment across the country. Food production has generally grown faster than population over these years, but between the 1950s and the reforms of 1979, not by very much.8 China's success in reducing deprivation is particularly connected with public policies involving relatively egalitarian distribution and widespread public support of health and nutrition. Riskin also discusses in some detail the mechanisms of food distribution in China—between the provinces, between the urban and rural areas, and between different families and persons.

One terrible blot in China's otherwise impressive record is the occurrence of a large famine during 1959–61, in the wake of the failure of the so‐called Great Leap Forward. Riskin discusses the factors that contributed to this calamity, including the limited information that the central government had about food production and consumption in the provinces.

The fact that China could have such a famine despite its excellent general record in the reduction of endemic deprivation and normal mortality underlines the need to see the battle against hunger as one with many facets. It also indicates that the eradication of hunger benefits not only from having a dedicated and determined government committed to that objective, but also from having a system that permits participatory and adversarial involvement of the general public.9 Given the recent developments in China, the relevance of these considerations may extend well beyond the limited field of anti‐hunger policy.

0.5. Public support in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's achievements in raising life expectancy and the related aspects of quality of life have been the subject of much attention among economists (even though these achievements are in some danger of being overshadowed by the violence and strife into which Sri Lanka has recently been plunged). A life expectancy of 70 years for a country with the low GNP per head that Sri Lanka has is no mean feat. Indeed, its life expectancy is still marginally higher than that of South Korea despite the latter's remarkable economic expansion leading to a GNP per capita many times that of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's use of public support measures goes back a long way. Expansion of primary education took place early in the century. A rapid expansion of (p.6) health services occurred in the mid‐1940s. Sri Lanka moved to a system of free or subsidized distribution of rice in 1942. Between 1940 and 1960, its crude death rate fell from above 20 per thousand to around 8 per thousand.

Sri Lanka's radical and innovative public support measures have played a substantial part in its achievements.10 In Chapter 2, Sudhir Anand and Ravi Kanbur have provided a probing account of that connection. By using time‐series data pertaining to the relevant variables, they have indicated how and when direct public intervention has contributed to reducing deprivation and to enhancing the quality of life in Sri Lanka. These lessons have considerable bearing on future policy as well, since public support measures have been under severe scrutiny in Sri Lanka—as elsewhere—on the grounds of their being expensive, and there has been some withdrawal (also analysed by Anand and Kanbur) from an interventionist strategy in recent years.

Anand and Kanbur's econometric analysis suggests that the expansion of health services has been rather more effective than food subsidies in bringing about mortality decline in Sri Lanka. The policy issues to be faced in Sri Lanka—and elsewhere—not only concern the recognition of the role of public support measures in general, but also call for a discriminating assessment of the choices to be faced within a general strategy of public intervention. Anand and Kanbur have provided a far‐reaching account of the diagnostic and policy issues concerning one of the most interesting experiences of combating hunger and deprivation in a poor country.

0.6. Brazil and unaimed opulence

While Sri Lanka provides an example of what can be achieved even with a low real income per head and moderate economic growth, Brazil provides an illustration of how little can happen in removing poverty and deprivation even with remarkably rapid growth of GNP per head. In Chapter 3, Ignacy Sachs provides a lucid account of this contrary experience.

Brazil's economic growth has not only been fast, it has also been sustained and technologically rich (with widespread use of modern technology). Brazil has also emerged as one of the largest exporters of industrial products in the (p.7) world, and the incomes generated in production for domestic and foreign markets have raised the level of average income in the country to levels that are very much higher than obtained a few decades ago. And yet there is a good deal of endemic undernutrition in Brazil and there is persistent poverty affecting a substantial section of the population. Sachs discusses how and why rapid economic growth has failed to improve the lives of so many million Brazilians, and why their entitlements have been so little influenced by the newly generated incomes. Identifying inequality as the major villain in all this, Sachs has also briefly explored the scope for ‘growth with redistribution’ in Brazil.

As we discussed earlier in this Introduction (and more fully in Drèze and Sen 1989), growth of GNP can be a major contributor to removing undernourishment and deprivation, and the strategy of ‘growth‐mediated security’ specifically focuses on this connection. But that recognition should not be confused with the claim that growth of GNP per head must invariably and automatically bring about removal of deprivation across the board. What is at issue is not merely the quality of growth—in particular its participatory nature—but also the willingness of the government to use the fruits of growth to provide public support with comprehensive coverage—guaranteeing basic health services, education, and other basic amenities to all sections of the population, including the most vulnerable and deprived groups. In both these respects the experience of growth‐mediated security in, say, South Korea contrasts sharply with the ‘unaimed opulence’ of Brazil.11

0.7. Latin American poverty and undernourishment

While Sachs concentrates on Brazil, Chapter 4 by Ravi Kanbur has a much wider coverage. Kanbur identifies the extent of undernourishment in Latin America, which is obviously much less severe than in South Asia or sub‐Saharan Africa, but which is far from negligible in magnitude.12

Kanbur goes on to discuss the extent to which economic growth on its own can be expected to eliminate undernourishment in the Latin American countries. Here Kanbur's broader analysis supplements the more concentrated study of Brazil by Sachs. Kanbur shows that the ‘crossover time’ (i.e. the number of years required for the average poor person to cross the poverty line if his or her income grows at the average rate of growth of per capita GNP of the past twenty years) tends to be remarkably high. This takes Kanbur to the (p.8) question of the aiming of economic expansion and the targeting of the increase of incomes and consumptions. He outlines some necessary characteristics of a well‐targeted policy for alleviating poverty and undernourishment.

Crucial to Kanbur's analysis is his identification of the contrasts between socio‐economic groups in terms of vulnerability to deprivation. Throughout Latin America, the incidence of poverty is much higher in the rural areas than in the urban (though the urban slum dwellers form one of the more deprived groups). Within the rural areas, the landless workers and those with tiny holdings are most prone to suffer. Kanbur finds the size of the family to be an important parameter as well, indicating the relevance of population policy. His analysis of targeting in removing undernourishment draws on the results of these diagnostic analyses. The important issue is to replace ‘unaimed opulence’ by using growth as a mediator of security.

0.8. The extent of undernourishment in sub‐Saharan Africa

Peter Svedberg in Chapter 5 is concerned with the diagnostic question as to how much undernourishment exists in sub‐Saharan Africa. Svedberg deals with both methodological and substantive issues. He argues that the methodologies used to measure the extent of undernourishment in sub‐Saharan Africa have frequently been faulty and have involved the use of unreliable data. He also indicates that the extent of undernourishment has been very often exaggerated.

Svedberg makes extensive use—inter alia—of anthropometric evidence to establish his substantive conclusions. There are interpretational problems here too, but Svedberg's critical assessment of the unreliability of the usual high estimates is certainly quite robust. It is important not to read his conclusions as grounds for smugness, since even his own estimates indicate a substantial problem of deprivation and undernourishment in sub‐Saharan Africa.

Svedberg's chapter can be seen as an argument for not exaggerating what is in any case quite a momentous problem. It can be added that, by exaggerating the extent of the problem, well‐meaning scholars have sometimes inadvertently encouraged a sense of hopelessness and fatalism about hunger in sub‐Saharan Africa. This can be changed by a more realistic assessment of the extent of the challenge, followed by determination to deal with it effectively. Svedberg's essay serves this dialectic purpose in addition to the methodological and diagnostic functions on which he himself concentrates.

0.9. Institutions and policies for sub‐Saharan Africa

In removing the true—unexaggerated—prevalence of endemic undernourishment in sub‐Saharan Africa, the expansion of its agriculture will undoubtedly play an important part. This is not merely because food comes primarily from (p.9) agriculture, but also because the entitlements of the majority of Africans depend—directly or indirectly—on the functioning of the agricultural sector, and this situation can change only relatively slowly. Despite the importance of distinguishing between the problems of food entitlement and those of food production as such, the crucial contributory role of food production in particular and agricultural production in general can scarcely be denied.

In Chapter 6 Francis Idachaba has provided a broad‐ranging analysis of ailments of sub‐Saharan agriculture and the policy options that exist. Rather than concentrating on some simple ‘remedies’, Idachaba surveys the whole gamut of specific issues—social institutions, technological research, rural infrastructure, agricultural prices. It is in this wide setting that he assesses what the governments can do and what policies seem most promising.13 Idachaba also considers the role of external assistance and the parts—negative as well as positive—played by international institutions such as the World Bank.

0.10. Kenyan agriculture and food deprivation

While Idachaba takes on the whole of sub‐Saharan Africa as his field of investigation, Judith Heyer looks specifically in Chapter 7 at smallholder agriculture in Kenya. The incidence of poverty among people engaged in smallholder agriculture in Kenya is, of course, very high, and Heyer considers the ways in which this situation can be changed.

Although Heyer examines various internal reforms within smallholder agriculture, she comes to the conclusion that, in bringing about a major change, an important part will have to be played by developments outside the sector—in non‐agricultural activities and in large‐scale farming. Heyer identifies intersectoral interconnections that are important, but which are frequently overlooked in viewing smallholder agriculture on its own. Her argument for a broader economic analysis with an eye to social consequences can be seen as a corrective of some of the prevailing preconceptions in this field.

0.11. The industrial connection

Chapter 8 by Samuel Wangwe has close links with Judith Heyer's broad‐based approach. Wangwe looks specifically at the contribution of industry to combating hunger (in this his concentration is rather narrower than that of Heyer), but he does not confine his analysis to any particular country (his focus is, in that respect, broader than that of Heyer).

(p.10) Given the importance of employment in securing entitlements, Wangwe devotes a good deal of attention to the need for generating opportunities of employment—in off‐farm activities and in industry in addition to farm employment. Another industrial connection that receives much attention in Wangwe's paper is the part played by the production, acquiring, and use of agricultural equipment. He also goes on to discuss the role of industry in agricultural processing.

The contributions of Heyer and Wangwe supplement the analysis presented by Idachaba, and help to underline the important fact that the solution of the so‐called ‘food problem’ in sub‐Saharan Africa will require a good deal more than a concentration on internal problems of the food‐producing sector. The persistence of endemic undernourishment in sub‐Saharan Africa calls for a wide range of remedial actions involving institutional changes and economic reforms both within the food sector and outside it.14

0.12. Hunger in Bangladesh

Sub‐Saharan Africa is not only plagued by endemic deprivation, it also suffers from the persistence of recurrent famines. In this respect the situation in South Asia is rather less desperate in that famines have rarely occurred in recent years in any of the South Asian economies. The one exception is Bangladesh which experienced a major famine in 1974.15 But despite this relative absence of famines, the extent of regular undernourishment seems to be, if anything, larger—even in proportion to its population—in South Asia than in sub‐Saharan Africa.16

Among the major countries in South Asia, Bangladesh is not only the poorest, it also has the largest proportion of hungry and undernourished people according to most estimates. In Chapter 9, Siddiq Osmani has provided a helpful and authoritative account of the problems of undernourishment and famines in Bangladesh. Despite the international perception of the enormous and seemingly incurable nature of Bangladesh's problems (it has frequently been referred to as ‘a basket case’), Bangladesh's achievements are far from negligible. It has achieved a growth rate of per capita income of about 2 per cent per year over the fourteen years or so since the famine of 1974,17 and it has successfully avoided famines despite natural calamities of rather larger dimension than in 1974 (including the widespread and severe flooding of 1988). (p.11) Osmani discusses the changes that have taken place and the major tasks that remain.

Osmani comes to the conclusion that, despite actually avoiding famines since 1974, Bangladesh's vulnerability to them remains. There is a lack of system in famine prevention and too much reliance on muddling through.18 As far as endemic hunger is concerned, Osmani also argues that current food policies have the effect of accentuating rather than relieving this problem. The relatively successful overall economic growth has not been adequate in eliminating regular undernourishment.19

It is interesting that despite a much faster overall growth of aggregate real income compared with the growth of food production and consumption (nutritional intake per head has not materially increased over the last two decades), food prices have not risen relative to other prices (in fact, the contrary has happened20). This is one result of the fact that Bangladesh's continuing problems have much to do with the persistence—even accentuation—of inequality, and the distribution of ownership and power that lead to unequal results. Osmani discusses the lines of reform that would be needed to meet the major challenge of continuing hunger in Bangladesh.

0.13. Public support and South Asia

While Chapter 9 concentrates on Bangladesh, Chapter 10, by Kaushik Basu, considers the problems of South Asia as a whole. The inadequacy of relying only on overall economic growth resurfaces here again in this context. Basu outlines the need for—and the actual possibility of—effective policies of ‘direct action’ to remove poverty and regular deprivation.

Basu illustrates his arguments with empirical illustrations from the experiences of Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh. He also provides a probing scrutiny of various ‘poverty alleviation programmes’ in use in South Asia, including ‘food‐for‐work’ schemes. While many of these programmes have failed in diverse ways, Basu outlines the promising nature of some of these policies if they are effectively planned and implemented.

The ‘direct action’ programmes take the form of economic action, but their success depends greatly on their political background—in particular the ability to remove the political constraints that often make them ineffective or degenerate. In addition to providing economic analysis of poverty removal, Chapter 10 goes into the political requirements of entitlement protection and (p.12) promotion. Both Osmani and Basu go explicitly into the political factors on which the effectiveness and success of economic policies significantly depend.21 Here again political economy, in the broader sense outlined earlier, becomes the crucial analytical apparatus.

(p.13) References

Bibliography references:

Alamgir, M. (1980), Famine in South Asia (Cambridge, Mass.: Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain).

Banister, Judith (1987), China's Changing Population (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press).

Bhalla, Surjit (1988), ‘Is Sri Lanka an Exception? A Comparative Study in Living Standards’, in Srinivasan, T. N., and Bardhan, P. K. (eds.), Rural Poverty in South Asia (New York: Columbia University Press).

———and Glewwe, Paul (1986), ‘Growth and Equity in Developing Countries: A Reinterpretation of the Sri Lankan Experience’, World Bank Economic Review, 1.

Drèze, Jean (1988), ‘Social Insecurity in India’, paper presented at a Workshop on Social Security in Developing Countries held at the London School of Economics, July.

———and Sen, Amartya (1989), Hunger and Public Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

———(1990), ‘Public Action for Social Security’, in Ahmad, S. E., Drèze, J. P., Hills, J., and Sen, A. K. (eds.) (forthcoming), Social Security in Developing Countries (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Eicher, Carl (1988), ‘Food Security Battles in Sub‐Saharan Africa’, paper presented at the VIIth World Congress of Rural Sociology, Bologna, 25 June–2 July.

Isenman, Paul (1987), ‘A Comment on “Growth and Equity in Developing Countries: A Reinterpretation of the Sri Lankan Experience” by Bhalla and Glewwe’, World Bank Economic Review, 1.

Lipton, Michael (1987), ‘Limits of Price Policy for Agriculture: Which Way for the World Bank?’, Development Policy Review, 5.

Mellor, J. W., Delgado, C. L., and Blackie, C. L. (eds.) (1987), Accelerating Food Production in Sub‐Saharan Africa (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins).

Osmani, Siddiq (1989), ‘Food Deprivation and Undernutrition in Rural Bangladesh’, paper presented at the 9th World Congress of the International Economic Association, Athens, Aug.

Pyatt, Graham (1987), ‘A Comment on “Growth and Equity in Developing Countries: A Reinterpretation of the Sri Lankan Experience” by Bhalla and Glewwe’, World Bank Economic Review, 1.

Ravallion, Martin (1987a), Markets and Famines (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

———(1987b), ‘Growth and Equity in Sri Lanka: A Comment’, mimeo (Washington, DC: World Bank).

Riskin, Carl (1987), China's Political Economy: The Quest for Development since 1949 (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Sen, Amartya (1981), Poverty and Famines (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

———(1984), Resources, Values and Development (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).

———(1989), ‘Economic Methodology: Heterogeneity and Relevance’, Social Research, 56. (p.14)


(1) This Introduction draws on the fuller and more general Introduction to the set of three volumes presented in vol. 1.

(2) Also published by Oxford University Press in the series of WIDER Studies in Development Economics: Drèze and Sen (1989).

(3) On this issue, see Sen (1984, 1989).

(4) On these questions see also Drèze and Sen (1989).

(5) On the role of public support measures in the recent experiences of growth‐mediated security, see Drèze and Sen (1989: ch. 10).

(6) There are many other factors involved in this complex question. On this and related matters (including the considerations involved in the choice between the two general strategies), see Drèze and Sen (1989: chs. 10–12).

(7) See also Riskin (1987).

(8) Oddly, in the post‐reform period, between 1979 and the mid‐1980s, while agricultural and food production per head have rapidly increased, the decline of mortality seems to have been halted (on this see Banister 1987). These changes are not yet fully studied, but among the factors implicated are general financial stringency and some withdrawal of wide‐coverage rural health services, and the introduction of compulsory birth control measures, leading to a neglect (if not worse) of female children. These matters have been discussed in Drèze and Sen (1989: ch. 11).

(9) On this see also Drèze and Sen (1989). Also ch. 6 in vol. 1, and chs. 1 and 2 in vol. 2.

(10) Some observers (e.g. Bhalla and Glewwe 1986, Bhalla 1988) have argued that Sri Lanka's high level of life expectancy and other achievements may not have been related to its public support measures and in support of this view they have pointed to its unexceptional expansion of life expectancy and other indicators in the period since 1960 (compared with other countries). Aside from some methodological problems in the analysis (on which see Isenman 1987, Pyatt 1987, Ravallion 1987b, among others), this line of argument overlooks the fact that the expansion of public support measures in Sri Lanka substantially predates 1960, and that in the period of rapid expansion of public support (particularly from the mid‐1940s) Sri Lanka's death rate did fall quite fast. On this and related matters, see Drèze and Sen (1989: ch. 12).

(11) The contrast between ‘growth‐mediated security’ and ‘unaimed opulence’ is discussed in Drèze and Sen (1989: ch. 10).

(12) While the proportion of people in poverty in Latin America is comparable to that in East Asia in terms of income deprivation, Latin America's record is much worse than that of East Asia in terms of living conditions, including expectation of life.

(13) There is a discussion in Drèze and Sen (1989: ch. 9) of these issues, including the importance of diversification and the balance of food production vis‐à‐vis the production of cash crops and industrial goods.

(14) See also Mellor et al. (1987), Lipton (1987), Eicher (1988). Drèze and Sen (1989).

(15) On this see Alamgir (1980) and Sen (1981: ch. 9).

(16) This is so even according to standard estimates (see ch. 4 below for some comparative figures). Svedberg's criticisms have the effect of indicating that the actual extent of undernourishment is less in sub‐Saharan Africa than these estimates suggest.

(17) On this see also Osmani (1989).

(18) It is also possible to argue that the more restricted nature of adversarial politics in Bangladesh compared with India is a factor that keeps the former country more vulnerable to famines arising from the lack of alertness and speed in anti‐famine public policy.

(19) There has, however, been a considerable reduction in mortality, morbidity, and clinically diagnosed undernourishment in Bangladesh, connected with better delivery of health services.

(20) On this see Osmani (1989).

(21) On this see also Drèze and Sen (1989: esp. ch. 13).