Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



This Thesis examines the empirical validity of Sen’s development theory. In his seminal work “Development as Freedom” Sen postulated a theoretical conceptualization of development which constitutes a paradigm shift towards a fundamental understanding of the determinants and causal relationships that explain development. A deconstruction of Sen’s development theory leads to five core tenets on which his theoretical conceptualization rests. These five pillars are translated onto testable hypothesis which are incorporated into a 2nd order recursive Covariance Structure Model (CSM) that allows scientific examination through hypothesis testing. Sen’s hypothesized core tenets are as follows: 1. Development is seen as an integrated multi-dimensional construct. Evaluative assessments of development require a broadening of the informational basis, and cannot be viewed only on the basis of one sole indicator (i.e. income per capita or gross domestic product). 2. Instrumental freedoms (i.e institutional structure) directly enhance substantive freedoms (i.e societal capabilities). 3. Substantive freedoms are derived from five different types of instrumental freedoms. 4. The expansion of freedoms is the primary end of development. 5. The existence of interlinkages between different kinds of instrumental freedoms. A database comprising 5 measured variables in the economic dimension, 5 in the social dimension, and 6 in the political dimension, for 154 countries (for all levels of income) for the average period from 1990 - 1994 was put together. The resulting empirical covariance matrix from the data was subjected to scientific hypothesis testing against the CSM. The results provide strong empirical evidence in support of Sen's "development as freedom" theory. The clear implication is that Sen's paradigm shift in development theory calls for a total rethinking on the socio-economic front of policy making, and that, once and for all, scholars in long-term growth and in political economy, policy makers, and world financial institutions alike should seriously consider an in-depth review, if not totally abandon, the unidimensional dominant perspective that for far too long now has negatively impacted and slowed down economic growth around the world.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kim, Wonik