The food availability decline and Sen's entitlement are two leading hypotheses for the causation of famine. Previous research based on case studies has given independent support to each of the accounts. This paper analyses the Chinese famine of 1959-61 by jointly considering entitlement arrangement and declines in food availability as complementary causes. We found that in the Chinese famine of 1959-61 both the food availability decline and entitlement arrangement contributed significantly to the increase of death rates in the famine. However, the differences in the entitlement arrangement were more important than the differences in food availability for explaining the observed differences in death rates across provinces.