Abstract

Amartya Sen has written a sweeping overview as an introduction to this important Conference on Economic Policy and Equity. Although the conference organizers framed the issues in terms of the inequality of income, and also of consumption and wealth, Sen asks why the discussion of equity always gets mired in these concepts. Perhaps, he suggests, because economic policy can directly influence the distribution of income. But income inequality can give a very misleading picture of the inequities in different societies. Full information on equity would require some aggregate measure of the ability to live a healthy and successful life. Constructing such a measure, however, would involve impossible quantification and arbitrary weightings.