IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Ingredients of Famine Analysis: Availability and Entitlements


  • Amartya Sen


Famines often take place in situations of moderate to good food availability, without any significant decline of food supply per head. The paper presents an alternative approach to famines, which does not concentrate on availability, but on people's ability to command food through legal means available in the society (including the use of production possibilities, trade opportunities, entitlements vis-à-vis the state, etc.). The approach is explained, focusing on exchange entitlement mappings, fluctuations in which can lead to big shifts in the intergroup distribution of food command. The approach is then applied to the Bengal famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famine in Wollo in 1973, and the Bangladesh famine in 1974, and some general conclusions are drawn about the nature and classes of famines.

Suggested Citation

  • Amartya Sen, 1981. "Ingredients of Famine Analysis: Availability and Entitlements," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 96(3), pages 433-464.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:96:y:1981:i:3:p:433-464.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:96:y:1981:i:3:p:433-464.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Oxford University Press to update the entry or send us the correct email address or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.