Amartya Sen argues that world development should not be judged by plain economic statistics such as GDP growth rates or income per capita. Instead he argues a form of measurement that uses a "freedom-centered understanding of economics" where the enhancements of individuals liberties is both the means and ends of development. Historical evidence, however, suggests that an excess or paucity of freedom is harmful; therefore, one should avoid total freedom and seek a balance between the two endpoints, as this seems to be the most effective social system. There is not, however, one definitive, measurable equilibrium amongst freedoms and, instead, the weighting of freedoms within a society varies according to the level of development and also fluctuates due to evolving social perceptions.
[...] Instead of relying on economic statistics as development scales, such as GDP, per capita income, debt as a percentage of the budget, etc., Sen argues, we should instead focus entirely on the level of human freedom accorded to various populations. Due to my argument that total freedom should not be the end goal of society, the amount and balance of freedoms in an individual country is integral to its development and continued economic success. The exact level of human freedom, however, is an ambiguous amount that is hard to judge or benchmark. [...]
[...] Foreign direct investment is a positive thing for the developing countries, but domestic economic development that encourages the creation of a large consumer base and strong domestic industries should be the focus of the developing countries. The level of economic freedoms in this type of structure are much different, much less to be exact, than Sen's proposed market mechanism structure. The best examples of the closed, structured economic development are the Asian economies that developed in the post World War II era and lasted until the late 1980s when they completely opened up to the global economy. [...]
[...] Sen notes how Americans are more short-termed goal oriented than European and therefore health enhancements are secondary to economic gains. These cultural characteristics, in turn, shape the types of institutions functioning in society which serve as the main providers and regulators of freedom. America's institutions can be described as anything from the Cato Institute to the House of Representatives. The populace shapes all of these social, political, and economic institutions which, therefore, shaped the world and freedoms we live within. [...]
[...] This method of development favored by Sen does not use economic indicators as benchmarks, instead it “works through priority being given to providing social services that reduce mortality and enhance the quality of life.” Sen is intent on proving through the comparison of seven countries that overall health freedom is not dependant on income or overall economic levels. In his example he compares low GNP per capita countries Kerala, China, and Sri Lanka with higher ones, Namibia, Brazil, South Africa and Gabon. [...]
[...] For one support-led growth is unsustainable over the long-run unless it can be paired with significant levels of economic growth that can provide the funds that are necessary to support social service programs. Therefore, support-led growth should be funded but while taking a back seat to the growth-mediated process which Sen mentions. This process is more economically driven and is founded on the fact that economic growth fuels growth throughout society, whether it be health or education related. This is a more top-down approach to development rather than the bottom-up support-led growth model Sen supports. [...]
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