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On hunger and public action

  • Ravallion, Martin

This article is a commentary on a new book"Hunger and Public Action,"by authors Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen. The article compares the book's conceptual approach and policy recommendations to those of other recent writings on poverty and hunger. Researchers trying to understand the causes of a particular famine or to anticipate future famines have usually concentrated on information about aggregate food availability. A better approach is to focus on the determinants of individual entitlements - the command of people over food and other necessities. Ravallion critically assesses the book's conceptual framework, data, and the methods of analysis. He concludes that, despite some shortcomings in the book, the authors make a convincing case for a positive role for public action in famine relief and longer term relief of poverty and hunger.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 680.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1991
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:680
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  1. Bhalla, Surjit S & Glewwe, Paul, 1986. "Growth and Equity in Developing Countries: A Reinterpretation of the Sri Lankan Experience," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 1(1), pages 35-63, September.
  2. Stephen Coate, 1987. "Cash Versus Direct Food Relief," Discussion Papers 724R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Kasperson, Jeanne X. & Kates, Robert W., 1990. "Introduction: halving hunger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 274-276, August.
  4. Sen, Amartya, 1981. "Public Action and the Quality of Life in Developing Countries," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 43(4), pages 287-319, November.
  5. Brown University faculty, 1990. "Overcoming hunger : Promising programmes and policies," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 286-298, August.
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