The Freedom to Overcome Poverty

According to Amartya Sen, people working in the development field need to shift their focus away from narrow views to a wider view of prosperity in a developing area.  Sen states that the narrow views of describing poverty include income, gross national product, industrialization, technological advancement, and social modernization.  Though these are all part of poverty, Sen argues that the key to development is human freedoms (political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security).

Sen discuses the dangers that arise when people focus on the narrow views, like income, instead of stepping back and pushing for freedoms.  By looking at income alone, people are merely considering the economic growth of a society.  Sen says that the goal of economic growth is just greed.  Real change needs to occur for development to be successful.  This change should come from the people who are actually impoverished through discussion and awareness.  If people have a higher income, but still cannot get an education or get the job they want, then what has truly been achieved?

I agree with Sen that the capability approach (analyzing people’s ability to “choose to be and do what they want along with others to obtain their goals in life and fulfill themselves”) is crucial in economic growth.  Freedoms must exist so that there is no deprivation in the lives of the people we are trying to help. We should be worried about enhancing the lives of the people in poverty, not just small trivial goals.

However, we still need to set standards to test ourselves against.  Our overall goal should be the enhancement of the people through freedoms, and we measure that enhancement through tests such as increases in income.  The danger of looking at just incomes is that we forget about the lives of the impoverished people.  We want their lives to get better along with their incomes.

2 Responses to “The Freedom to Overcome Poverty

  • econrad
    7 years ago

    What other tests exist for La Ceiba? You have mentioned you agree with Sen’s argument, but are there no other tests in place for La Ceiba?

  • econrad
    7 years ago

    other than that you’ve mentioned of income, I mean… it is just an interesting topic for all of us to consider.

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