Amartya Sen

1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics; Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University

Amartya Sen, the [1998] Nobel Prize winner in Economics, has helped give voice to the world's poor. And that is no small matter, for the very lives of the world's poor may depend on having their voices heard. In a lifetime of careful scholarship, Sen has repeatedly returned to a basic theme: even impoverished societies can improve the well-being of their least advantaged members. Societies that attend to the poorest of the poor can save their lives, promote their longevity and increase their opportunities through education and productive work. Societies that neglect the poor, on the other hand, may inadvertently allow millions to die of famine; even in the middle of an economic boom, as occurred during the great famine in Bengal, India, in 1943, the subject of Sen's most famous case study.

Sen delivers a powerful message: "annual income growth is not enough to achieve development. Societies must pay attention to social goals as well, always leaning toward their most vulnerable citizens, and overcoming deep-rooted biases to invest the health and well-being of girls as well as boys. In a world in which 1.5 billion people subsist on less than 1 day, this Nobel Prize can be not just a celebration of a wonderful scholar but also a clarion call to attend to the urgent needs and hopes of the world's poor." -Jeffrey Sachs, Time (1998).

Currently Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, Amartya Sen was until recently the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has served as President of the Econometric Society, the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association, and the International Economic Association. He was formerly Honorary President of OXFAM and is now its Honorary Advisor. Born in Santiniketan, India, Amartya Sen studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, India, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is an Indian citizen. From 1988-98, Dr. Sen was also Lamont Professor at Harvard. He has been Professor of Economics at Delhi University and at the London School of Economics, the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University, and a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford (where he is now a distinguished fellow).

Amartya Sen's books have been translated into more than thirty languages, and include Collective Choice and Social Welfare (1970), On Economic Inequality (1973, 1997), Poverty and Famines (1981), Choice, Welfare and Measurement (1982), Resources, Values and Development (1984), On Ethics and Economics (1987), The Standard of Living (1987), Inequality Reexamined (1992), Development as Freedom (1999), Rationality and Freedom (2002), The Argumentative Indian (2005), and Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2006), among others. His research has ranged over a number of fields in economics, philosophy, and decision theory, including social choice theory, welfare economics, theory of measurement, development economics, public health, gender studies, moral and political philosophy, and the economics of peace and war.

Amartya Sen has received honorary doctorates from major universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. Among the awards he has received are the Bharat Ratna (the highest honor awarded by the President of India); the Senator Giovanni Agnelli International Prize in Ethics; the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award; the Edinburgh Medal; the Brazilian Ordem do Merito Cientifico (Gr-Cruz); the Presidency of the Italian Republic Medal; the Eisenhower Medal (2000); honorary Companion of Honor (U.K., 2000); The George E. Marshall Award, and the Nobel Prize in Economics (1998).