Bangladesh Famine of 1974 - Portrait of Mortality

Portrait of Mortality

In terms of total mortality, though figures vary, one scholar estimates 1.5 million deaths as a reasonable estimate. This number includes the post-famine mortality. Starvation was not the only factor; a significant number of deaths are attributable to diseases, cholera, malaria and diarrheic diseases. As with most famines, weakened, disease-susceptible conditions resulted in high post-famine mortalities of over 450,000. The poor, labourers and non-landowners were especially susceptible.

Multiple authors agree that “wage labourers suffered the highest mortality for all groups”. Crude death rate "among landless families was three times higher than that for families with three or more acres”.p. 18 Amartya Sen's micro-level entitlement analysis explains this trend. Sen's theory, looks at individual "entitlements", or direct access, to food resources. Individuals who have a direct claim to food (e.g. landowning farmers), will fare better than those who rely on markets to purchase food(e.g. artisans, or those in service sectors). For example, while a landowning farmer claims her product, her labourer is paid a wage and must buy food from the market. Thus, non-crop-owners are exposed to fluctuations in food prices, employment opportunities, wage and demand for products and services. In a time of food insecurity, these conditions deteriorate, leaving non-crop-owners susceptible to famine.

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