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Partha Dasgupta

Partha  Dasgupta,  who  was  born  in  Dhaka  (at  that  time  in  India)  and  educated  in Varanasi,  Delhi,  and Cambridge, is the Frank Ramsey Professor  of Economics and past Chairman (1997-2002)  of the Faculty  of Economics  at  the  University  of  Cambridge,  and Fellow  of  St.  John's  College,  Cambridge.  He  taught  at  the London  School  of Economics during  1971-1984  and  moved  to  the  University  of  Cambridge  in  1985  as Professor of Economics. During 1989-92 he was also  Professor of Economics, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Program in Ethics in Society at Stanford University; and during 1991-97 he served as Chairman of  the  (Scientific  Advisory)  Board  of  the  Beijer  International  Institute of  Ecological  Economics,  Stockholm. Professor Dasgupta's research interests have covered welfare and development economics, the economics of technological  change,  population, environmental  and  resource  economics,  the  theory  of  games,  and  the economics of undernutrition. His publications include "Guidelines for Project Evaluation" (with S.A. Marglin and A.K. Sen; United Nations, 1972), "Economic Theory and Exhaustible Resources" (with G.M. Heal; Cambridge University Press, 1979 (recipient of the United States Association of Environmental and Resource Economists "Publication of Enduring Quality Award 2003")); "The Control of Resources" (Harvard University Press, 1982); "An  Inquiry  into  Well-Being  and Destitution"  (Clarendon  Press,  Oxford,  1993);  "Human  Well-Being  and  the Natural Environment" (Oxford University Press, 2001; revised edition,  2004); and "Economics: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007).

Professor  Dasgupta  is  a  Fellow  of  the  Econometric  Society  (1975),  Fel ow  of  the British  Academy  (1989), Fel ow of the Royal Society (2004), Member of the Pontifical cademy of Social Sciences (1998), Fellow of the Third  World  Academy  of  Sciences  (2001), Foreign  Member  of  the  Royal  Swedish  Academy  of  Sciences (1991),  Honorary  Fellow of the  London  School  of  Economics  (1995),  Honorary  Member  of  the  American Economic Association  (1997),  Foreign  Honorary  Member  of  the  American  Academy  of  Arts  and Sciences (1991),  Foreign  Associate  of  the  US  National  Academy  of  Sciences  (2001), and  Foreign  Member  of  the American Philosophical Society (2005). He is  a  past President of the Royal Economic Society  (1998-2001), the European Economic Association (1999), and Section F (Economics) of the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) Festival of Science (2006). Professor Dasgupta was named Knight Bachelor by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in her Birthday Honours  List in 2002 for "services to economics", was co-winner 
(with Karl-Goran  Maler  of  the  Beijer  International  Institute  of  Ecological  Economics, Stockholm)  of the  2002 Volvo Environment Prize and of the 2004 Kenneth E.Boulding Memorial Award of the International Society for Ecological  Economics,  and  is  the  recipient of  the  John  Kenneth  Galbraith  Award,  2007,  of  the  American Agricultural Economics Association.  

Food and water as economic goods

Food (more specifically, nutrition) and water are two of the most urgent of material human needs. As they complement each other, they are of equal importance. Nevertheless, most societies view them differently. Food is almost everywhere regarded as an economic good, by which I mean not only that it is priced, but there is a presumption that the price reflects the cost of production, including the rent on the land on which the food is grown. In contrast, the price paid for water would seem to reflect only the cost of extraction and purification: water in situ is frequently taken to be a free good. In this lecture I shall try to identify the reasons behind this difference in attitude toward these two vital human needs. I shall also use those reasons to explain differences in the character of the acute scarcities in food and water that are currently being experienced in many parts of the globe. The current evidence would appear to be that, while water scarcity in many rgions is likely to be an enduring problem, the same is probably not true in the case of food (at least not yet).

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