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Talk: Amartya Sen and Ecological Economics

Cerana Foundation, Hyderabad recently hosted a talk on the topic ‘Amartya Sen and Ecological Economics‘, delivered by Mark Lindley, academic and author. To view a video recording of the talk, click below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUIj4iHINR4&w=560&h=315]

Synopsis: Distinctive features of main three phases of 20th-century economic theory were: (1) positing two basic factors of production (labour, capital), (2) positing an additional, culture-dependent factor leveraging the productivity of labour (Robert Solow’s work and Amartya’s pertain to this phase), and (3) taking account also of environmental factors. From an examination of statements made by Amartya (in 1962, 1984, 1994 (where a strong influence from Solow is apparent), 2006, 2009 and 2013, I find a combination of reasons why he slighted ecological economics: he wanted to take for granted that, as Keynes had put it in 1929, the future would offer “far more wealth … and possibilities of personal life than the past has ever offered”, and was unwilling to risk unpopularity by proposing that the affluent moderate their rates of per-capita consumption; because of his concern about relieving current poverty, he was afraid that to dwell upon concerns in behalf of the unborn would aggravate the exclusive concern of the affluent for their own progeny; he wanted to avoid dealing in detail with uncertainties; and so he hoped that macro-ecological problems wouldn’t be as bad as predicted.”

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