Human Wants: Concept in Economics

In economics, human wants refer to the basic needs that human beings need to function normally this include; food, shelter, clothing and air. Things like radio, education, watches, and vehicles are not very basic. They are meant to have an individual have a happy and comfortable and luxurious life. Wants that can be satisfied by providing goods and services re known as economic wants. When goods and services are provided to satisfy human wants, they lead to creation of utility – the enjoyment or usefulness that the consumer gets from using goods or services. The different types of utility include:

  • Form utility – This is created through changing the form of a raw material to a finished product. It is usually done during various manufacturing processes. The finished goods are in a better form for use than the raw materials.
  • Time utility – this type of economic utility is created through warehousing or storage
  • Possession utility – This is created through trade or exchange, which leads to the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.
  • Place utility – this type of utility is created through distribution. After goods have been produced, they must be moved to the places where they are required for use.

Characteristics of Human Wants

Human wants have several characteristics. Some of them are:

  • They are many, numerous and unlimited.
  • They continually change with time and other factors.
  • Some are repetitive e.g. supper, lunch etc.
  • Wants are competitive
  • Wants are complementary – Used together e.g. shoe polish and a shoe.
  • Wants are habitual that they always occur e.g. toothpaste, perfume etc.
  • Wants are universal-Everybody wants them.

Types of Human Wants

They are classified into two groups.

  • Basic human needs: This are things one cannot do without e.g. food. They always come at the top for the scale of preference and failure to satisfy them one can lead a miserable life or even die.
  • Secondary human wants: they are things one can do without. They help one lead a happy meaningful and comfortable life e.g. TV set, radio, cars, education, sodas etc.
  • One must satisfy basic needs before attaining secondary wants. Since the resources to satisfy human wants are scarce, one has to select on what wants are to be satisfied first and which can wait.

Characteristics of basic wants.

Basic wants are the goods that human beings require for survival. Without them, an individual will not survive or live normally. Some of the characteristics of basic wants include:

  • One can’t do without them.
  • They are felt needs
  • Can’t be postponed
  • They are satisfied before secondary wants.

Difficulties in Satisfying Human Wants

Although human wants are there to satisfy man with lives requirements, it is not always possible to have them this is because;

  • They are too many and new ones keep cropping up.
  • Resources to satisfy them are never enough (limited).
  • They are repetitive hence people will always strive for more resources.
  • They continually change with time and other factors like age and gender.
  • Some are habitual making life unbearable without them.
  • Due to scarcity of resources, a problem of deciding which want to satisfy first with scarce resources arise.

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