Friday, 6 November 2009

Famine and trade

Famine is an all too common fact of life in many parts of the world. But why do these areas suffer from such food shortages? Climate change? Lack of aid to the effected regions? In an article in the Wall Street Journal Julian Morris argues that we should blame famine on neither of these two reasons. He explains that we should blame famine on trade restrictions, not on climate change or a lack of Western aid. Morris writes,
Although thousands of individuals like Ms. Weldu have been saved by Western charity and taxes, millions more have suffered and died needlessly from famine in East Africa in the past quarter century. But their suffering was not caused by a lack of aid. Nor was it caused primarily by climate change (Western-induced or otherwise). Rather, it was and is the result of policies in the affected countries that inhibit freedom and incentives to trade, own land, and invest in diverse, prosperity-enhancing economic activities.
and continues,
Since the 1920s, global deaths from drought-related famines have fallen by 99.9%. The reason? Continued specialization and trade, which has skyrocketed the amount of food produced per capita, and has enabled people in drought-prone regions to diversify and become less vulnerable.

In places where trade is restricted, people are forced to remain subsistence farmers. So, when drought occurs, the majority suffer and many die.

1 comment:

John said...

Along the same lines, here is Sen (1999): "No substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press."