Summary of Development as Freedom

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Development as Freedom book summary
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Rating

6 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

6 Style


Recommendation

Nobel Prize-winning economic scientist Amartya Sen attempts to popularize a series of lectures he presented to executives at the World Bank in 1996. He challenges traditional economic theories to justify a more aggressive, humane and generous funding formula to benefit the world’s poorest nations. This goal is based on his theory about individual capabilities and functionings, and how they affect opportunity, both person by person and in a society. Even though this is aimed for general discussion rather than Ph.D. course work, it is an extremely daunting book to read, a mental maze land mined with quirky thoughts and a thick lexicon only an academic could love. More thesis than not, the text is 298 pages plus 60 pages of small type footnotes. The short version: the rich get richer and the poor remain deprived of abilities and awaiting enlightened development. getAbstract recommends this dense, challenging but important book to insomniacs, liberal world bankers, economic policy makers, the Kofi Annan fan club and students of economic science.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a brilliant Nobel-winning economist from India looks at traditional economic theories; and
  • How various world views and different economic theories see and shape the concept of freedom – and why that matters in development.
 

About the Author

Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for economic science in 1998. He is past president of the Indian Economic Association, The American Economic Association, the International Economic Association and the Econometric Society. He has taught at Calcutta, Delhi, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and the London School of Economics. He is the master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

 

Summary

The Parable

Tupac needs his swimming pool maintained. Three unemployed people at a nearby highway exit ramp beg for work. Tupac could hire all three of them and distribute the work, but he only has one pool vacuum so the work cannot be divided. He must choose. The candidates are Jake, who is the most destitute; Bertrand, who recently became poor and is very depressed and Lakrisha, who has a bad limp. At first, Tupac thinks it is best to hire Jake, the poorest. Then he decides on Bertrand, because making a poor, depressed person happy perhaps should be a higher priority than giving a job to a well-adjusted pauper. Then he sees Lakrisha’s limp. She explains that she has an infected wound from a mugging. He considers giving the job to stoic Lakrisha, so that she can get medical help, knowing that her quality of life will be greatly improved when she can afford freedom from pain.


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