Scarcity and Choice Definition in Economics

Scarcity and Choice Definition in Economics
Lionea Robbins (1898-1984), a British citizen and a professor of economics at London School of Economics (1929-1961), is one of the modern economists who gave the most scientific and logical definition of economics. He published his book,"An Essay on the Nature of Significance of Economic Science", 1932. In which, he gives a new definition of economics. On the 20th page of his book, he says,"Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."

Robbins has defined economics as a human science dealing with alternative use or selection of scarce means and ends concernd with human behaviour. This definition is take as an analytical definition, which is supported by modern economists like:Alec Macfic, Eric Roll, etc.

Main Ideas:

Robbins definition has been accepted as a standard definition of the scope of economics. It has the following aspects:
  • Human wants or ends are unlimited.
  • Means or resources that are used to meet the unlimited wants, ends are scarce or limited in supply.
  • A choice has to be made from among the multiple wants.
  • Such scarce resources can be used altenatively.
Logical Explaination
The definition of economics given by L. Robbins can be explained with the following points:
  • Unlimited Ends of Wants:
According to Prof. Robbins, human wants are unlimited which can never be fulfilled. Once the first and most important want is fulfilled, new wants crop up or arise in our mind immediately. When we fulfil the second need, new wants are of the third need would come up for notice. Therefore, human wants in its entirely can never be fulfilled during one's lifetime. This human characteristics can be experienced not only by poor people but also by rich people.

  • Scarce Means of Resources:
Some human wants are possible to be fulfilled with the consumption of different goods or means. Here, the word 'means' refers to natural resources, human resources, capital resources, physical resources, consumer goods, luxuary goods and unit of time and amount of money availabel to mankind. The quantity supplied of these resources is very scarce or limited in comparison to human demand in society. If then there would not arise any economic problem in human society.

  • Alternative Choice


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