21 July 2013

Tag Team Political Economy - Bhagwati and Panagariya vs. Sen and Jean Drèze

Disagreements among economists are enlightening insofar as they reveal that there is considerably less consensus than meets the eye . . .  Recently The Economist ran this review of a new (actually not-yet-released in the US) book by Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze* which, in turn, elicited this critical letter from Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya who have a new book of their own.** The latter, in turn, also was reviewed here at The Economist several months ago. Sen and Jean Drèze replied with this letter insisting that Bhagwati and Panagariya had caricatured their work. While this may seem merely an academic squabble, the issues at stake are of considerable importance - the relative importance of focusing of rapid economic growth or on the political and social conditions under which growth occurs. This is important not just in India - the country on which both books focus - but in such underdeveloped areas of the US as western New York state.
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* Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze. 2013. An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions. Princeton University Press.
** Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya. 2013. Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries. Public Affairs Press.

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