Concept of Human Wants – class 11and 12 Important

Concept of Human Wants

“Man is a bundle of desires.”

In common language, there is little difference between a ‘desire’ and a ‘want.’

But in economics, there is a difference between a ‘desire’ and a ‘want’.

Every desire cannot be a want.

If a poor person desires a car, his desire cannot be called a want.

A desire can become a want only when a consumer has the means (i.e. money) to purchase the thing and he/she is also ready to spend the means (money).

For a desire to become a want, the following four elements must be present-

  1. The desire for a thing.
  2. Efforts to satisfy the desire
  3. The means (i.e. money) to purchase the thing.
  4. Readiness to spend the means (i.e. money) to satisfy the desire

These four essential elements constitute a want. Suppose, Rachit’s desires to possess a car, for this, he should make efforts and earn money to purchase it. He should also be ready to spend the money to purchase it. If all these four elements are present, only then Rachit’s desire to have a car can become his want.

In the words of Penson, “Want is that effective desire for a particular thing which expresses itself in the effort or sacrifice necessary to obtain it.”

“Wants is an effective desire for a particular thing, which can be satisfied by making an effort to acquire it”.

Wants can be influenced by culture, social status, personal tastes, and economic conditions.

Classification of human wants

Necessities, Comforts, and Luxuries

  • Necessities: These are essential for survival and basic well-being.
    Such wants that are essential for the existence of life are called necessities. For example,  food, shelter, and clothes are necessities of life because these are essential things to live.
  • Comforts: These are not essential but improve the quality of life and provide ease and convenience. Examples include a comfortable bed, household appliances, and personal transportation.
  • Luxuries: These go beyond necessities and comforts, providing a high degree of pleasure and status. Examples include luxury cars, designer clothing, and high-end gadgets.

Economic and Non-Economic Wants

  • Economic Wants: These are desires for goods and services that require resources to produce and involve monetary transactions. Examples include food, clothing, and housing.
  • Non-Economic Wants: These desires do not involve monetary transactions or scarce resources. Examples include the desire for love, friendship, and happiness.

“To understand the concept of human wants, it is essential to understand its features.”

Characteristics/Features of Wants

 1. Wants are Unlimited:

Man is a bundle of wants and his wants are numerous.

A man remains busy throughout his life to satisfy these wants.

When one want is satisfied, another want crops up. In this way, wants arise one after another.

The second want arises after the satisfaction of the first want, the third after the second, and so on. This endless circle of wants continues throughout human life. Thus wants are unlimited.

2.Each Particular( Single) Want can be satisfied:

We cannot satisfy all our wants because the means(Resources) to satisfy them are limited. But a person can satisfy a particular want. For example, hunger can be satisfied by taking food. He may take one, two, three or more pieces of bread. Ultimately, he will say that he does not want more bread.

3. Wants are Competitive:

We can satisfy only a few wants and not all wants because our means(resources) are limited.

Therefore, we always have to make a relative comparison of the intensity of our different wants.

Only that want is satisfied first which is the most urgent. For example, suppose, a student has Rs. 500 with him. With this amount he can purchase either a Book of Economics or see a picture.

Now there will arise a competition between his want for a Book of Economics and for a picture. If his intensity for the Book of Economics is more intense, he will purchase the Book of Economics, instead of seeing the picture. In this way, there is always competition among our various wants.

4. Wants are Complementary:

Wants are competitive but a few wants are complementary to each other.

To satisfy one’s want for a good, we have to arrange for another good also.

For example, the want for a car can be satisfied only when we fulfill the want for petrol also. Such wants are called complementary.

5. Some Wants are both Competitive and Complementary:

Certain wants are competitive as well as complementary to each other. For instance, labourers are required to operate machines. Therefore, the demand for labour is a complementary want for machines.

But, at the same time, machines can be used in place of labour for the production of goods.

Here, machines reduce the want for labour and thus wants for machine and labour are also competitive with each other.

6. Some Wants Recur:

Most wants recur. If they are satisfied once, they arise again after a certain period.

We take food and our hunger is satisfied.

But after a few hours, we again feel hungry, and we have to satisfy our hunger every time with food. Therefore, hunger, thirst, etc. are such wants which occur time and again.

7. Wants are Alternative:

Some wants are alternatives. We can satisfy our hunger either with rice, bread, vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, milk, etc.

8. Wants are Relative:

Certain human wants are relative to time and place. We need woollens during the winter and cotton clothes during the summer. But when we go to a hill station during the summer, we need woollens. So wants change from time to time, from person to person and from place to place.

9. Wants vary in Intensity:

All our wants are not of equal importance. Certain wants have more intensity whereas other wants have less intensity. Food, clothes and shelter are more urgent wants than radio, scooter, television etc.

10. Wants are affected by Income:

The income of the individuals also affects their wants. As income increases, wants also increase. The wants of rich and poor people are not the same.

11. Wants are affected by Fashion:

Many of our wants are affected by fashion. Wants change with the change in fashion.

12. Wants are affected by Advertisements:

Wants are also affected by advertisement of goods and services made by producers and sellers. When we see an advertisement about a new product in a daily newspaper or TV, there arises a want for it. At present, most of our wants are the result of attractive advertisements.

These advertisements have a direct appeal and consumers by and large are persuaded to go for the consumption of these goods.

13. Wants are affected by Social Customs:

Man is a social animal. Therefore, wants are also affected by our social customs. For example, the demand for a band at the time of marriage is a want affected by our social customs.

14. Wants increase due to the Spread of Knowledge and Civilization:

Human wants increase with the spread of knowledge and the progress of civilization. The modern man has more wants in comparison to the wants of a man who used to live in the forests in olden times. Therefore, it can be said that human wants increase with an increase in knowledge and civilization. Even today wants of a person living in the city are more in number and variety than a person living in a village.

15. Present wants are more important than Future Wants:

It is natural among human beings to prefer the present wants to the future wants, as the satisfaction of present wants gives more satisfaction than the future wants. Future is uncertain and who knows whether we live or not.

How much is consumed and saved by a man out of his income depends on this feature of wants. This characteristic also explains one of the reasons as to why interest is paid.

“I think this article will help you understand the concept of human wants because it is written in simple language.”

Also Read: List of current assets and current liabilities

Also Read: Tangible vs Intangible Assets

Also Read: Liquid Ratio Or Quick Ratio Or Acid Test Ratio

Also Read: Real Account Examples List


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