Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Self-sacrifice: an analysis of female economic behaviour in less developed countries through the lenses of Amartya Sen’s thought

Erasmo, Valentina (2021): Self-sacrifice: an analysis of female economic behaviour in less developed countries through the lenses of Amartya Sen’s thought.

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Abstract

The paper shows how Sen admitted self-sacrifice, as opposite motive compared to self-interest, for describing female behaviour in less developed countries. During the Nineties, Sen referred specifically to some anthropological studies about women conditions (Kapur, 1999) in less developed countries: when these scholars had asked them whether they felt deprived, they said ‘no’. These women identify themselves with their family, in turn, their privileged economic motive is self-sacrifice at the goal of maximizing family welfare. In those cases only, Sen advocates selfishness as the ideal route for improving women’s well-being. These elements offer a more complex understanding of economic behaviour and an alternative compared to rational choice theory prevailing in those years, considering also those diversities deriving from gender specificities and geographical influences on decision-making. The main result of this paper is to have provided an extended reading of Sen’s analysis of economic behaviour where self-sacrifice and its related maximization of family welfare which might be considered typical female and “eastern” categories. These categories represent rural India’s women behaviour, while are absent in “Western” decision-making where gender specificities and geographic differences are not considered because they are not so stark.

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