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Wednesday, October 14, 1998 Published at 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK

Business: The Economy

Nobel prize for work on poverty and hunger

Trinity College in Cambridge

Amartya Sen, an Indian professor and Master of Britain's Trinity College in Cambridge, has won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Professor Sen, 64, is an expert on world poverty and has written extensively on famine.

His work includes studies of the Bangladesh famine of 1974 and other catastrophes in India, Bangladesh and the countries of the Sahara.

[ image: Professor Amartya Sen: An expert on world poverty]
Professor Amartya Sen: An expert on world poverty
He is the first Asian to win the coveted prize since it was first awarded in 1969.

The Nobel jury said that Professor Sen had made "several key contributions to the research on fundamental problems in welfare economics.

"His contributions range from axiomatic theory of social choice, over definitions of welfare and poverty indexes, to empirical studies of famine," it said.

On the basis of studies of several catastrophes, he showed that "famines have occurred even when the supply of food was not significantly lower than during previous years" without famines, the citation said.

Speaking from a New York hotel, Sen said he was "very pleased" to win the award, particularly because the subject for which he had been honoured touched the lives of ordinary people.

"What pleases me most is that the subject has received recognition."

Professor Sen was born in Bengal in 1933 and received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1959. He has been a professor in India, Britain and the United States.

Just this year he moved from Harvard University to Trinity College in Cambridge.

He is the first solo winner of the economics prize since 1995.

Mr Sen will be presented with a medal and a cheque for 7.6m Swedish kronor ($978,000 or £558,000) at an official ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the 102nd anniversary of the death of the creator of the prizes, Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel.

The Nobel Prize for Economics was only established in 1968, unlike the others which were founded in 1901. The prize is sponsored by the Bank of Sweden.

Economists from the United States are far ahead with 27 citations, followed by Britain (7), Norway and Sweden (2) and India, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the former Soviet Union with one each.

A cloud of uncertainty has always hung over the Nobel Prize for Economics as it was the only one not specified in Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel's will.

Last year's economics prize was awarded to two US Professor, Robert Merton of Harvard University and Myron Scholes, who in the early 1970s developed a model for pricing derivatives.

Derivatives are securities linked to or derived from an underlying asset such as loans or shares.

But their work has been undermined in the past month with the collapse of the hedge fund in which they were partners - Long-Term Capital Mangement, which had used their mathematical models.

The prize is the fifth out of six to be announced this week in Stockholm - the winner of the peace prize will be revealed on Friday.

The prizes will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.

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