This paper reviews recent contributions to the economics and economic history of
famine. It provides a context for the history of famine in the twentieth century, which
is unique. During the century, war and totalitarianism produced more famine deaths
than did overpopulation and economic backwardness; yet by its end, economic
growth and medical technology had almost eliminated the threat of major famines.
Today's high-profile famines are "small" by historical standards. Topics analyzed
include the role played by food markets in mitigating or exacerbating famine, the
globalization of disaster relief, the enhanced role of human agency and entitlements,
distinctive demography of certain twentieth-century famines, and future prospects for
"making famine history."