Development as freedom

Book review: SEN, A. (2000). Development as freedom.

Born in India, Amartya Sen is one of the world’s leading political economists. In his book “Development as Freedom” (1999), Sen believes that economic growth, social justice, and human rights should be considered as a centerpiece of economic development. In this book, he demonstrates the relationship between freedom and development, emphasizing that freedom is both a means and a target of the development process. He believes that development policies should be shifted from focusing on economic values (such as GDP or personal incomes) to improving the freedom of each individual.

Sen presents five distinct types of freedom that are closely related: political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security. He believes that the freedom of each individual will promote social development. What people can positively achieve is influenced by economic opportunities, political liberties, social powers, and the enabling conditions of good health, basic education, and the encouragement and cultivation of initiatives.

Sen always supports the poor, especially women, whom he calls the victims without economic freedom. He said that improving women’s freedom and their lives play an important role in the development process. He indicates that if women can read and write, have jobs, are economically free and socially safe, rates of infant survival will be increased while birth rates will be significantly reduced.

The book also discusses social justice and human rights by placing them in parallel with macro-economic issues such as the roles of the market, the provision of public goods, and the relationship with the government.

This is a book worth reading. Even if you do not have a background in economics, you can understand its main message: QUALITY OF LIFE SHOULD BE MEASURED BY FREEDOM, NOT ONLY BY WEALTH!

Ngoc Thao –

Translator: Hien Le

Editor: Gia Linh & Bao Nguyen