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Human Wants: Meaning, Types and Their Characteristics

Human Wants:

Human wants are the ends which human beings pursue for their satisfaction. Human wants are the instinctive desires which are however to be fulfilled. For example, everybody wants food, clothing, shelter etc. not only this, people also want bungalow, cars, air conditioners etc.

Human wants keep on rising with the passage of time and there is no end to them. Human wants can be classified as (i) Economic wants (ii) Non-Economic wants.

(i) Non-Economic Wants:

Non-economic wants are the kind of wants which can be satisfied without undertaking any economic activities in the form of land, labour, capital and organization. In other words, people do not need any income or money to satisfy these wants. These wants are expressed in the form of desire to attain, for example air, sunshine, love, fame, respect. etc. Non-economic wants are not considered in the subject of economics because they do not induce human beings for any kind of economic activities.

(ii) Economic Wants:

Economic wants are the kind of wants whose satisfaction require human beings to undertake economic activities in the form of land, labour, capital and organization and thereby require them to earn income in the form of rent, wage, interest and profit. This means that economic wants can be satisfied only by the use of money. The examples of economic wants are the desires to attain food, clothing, T.V, carpet, crockery, furniture etc. Since economic wants induce human beings to go for economic activities and to generate resources for their satisfaction, therefore, we are mainly concerned with these wants iii the Subject of Economics.

There are three kinds of economic wants. (i) , Necessities (ii) Comforts (iii) Luxuries

We shall now examine these kinds of economic wants.


A necessity is something that has to be attained to fulfill basic needs. It is not something that is optional or a kind of want under normal circumstances. Glaring example of necessities are food to eat, cloths to wear and shelter to have protection from any unwanted situation.


When people achieve necessities of life they talk about comforts. A comfort is a secondary requirement of the people that makes their life more comfortable. Examples of comforts are music, television, gas heater, furniture etc. Comforts increase efficiency of the people in work.


Luxuries are the kind of wants for such goods which establish a very high standard living. These goods are very expensive and are therefore available to only a small section the society. These goods set a conspicuous consumption standard which can be done away with. Hence, they discourage the growth of savings. Examples of luxuries are cars, expensive jewelries, high priced decorations etc.

It should be noted however that there are no hard and fast rules to determine which goods fall in the category of the three kinds of wants. Perhaps it depends on the persons who are using these goods. For example, an expensive car is a luxury for a student, may be a comfort for businessman and a necessity for an ambassador. However, basic necessities of life i.e. food, shelter and clothing are necessities for all.

Characteristics of Economic Wants:

Listed below are some of the characteristics of economic wants.

Economic Wants Are Unlimited:

There is never an end to economic wants. They are unlimited. This means that once a want is satisfied, another rises. For example, when the want for cycle is satisfied, the want for scooter arises. And when this is satisfied, the want for car arises and so on.

Are Not Equally Important:

 All human wants are not equally important. Their importance varies from necessities to luxuries. Necessities are the most important wants as they are the basic needs of life, comforts get the secondary importance and then come the luxuries.

Rise Again and Again:

Economic wants rise again and again. Take the case of necessities of life e.g. food. We take food in the morning but we feel hungry again in the evening and so on. In case of luxuries” we see that rich people keep on changing their cars again and again.

Can be satisfied by Different Means:

An economic want can be satisfied by different means. For example, in case of hunger, one can take bread or rice or steak etc. All these goods are alternate means to satisfy hunger. Similarly, for travelling one can choose any means of transport.

Co-operate with each other:

Some economic wants are complementary to each Other. Therefore, they all need to be satisfied at a time. Supposing a person buys a house. He, therefore, will have to buy beds, carpets, refrigerator, T.V., radio, furniture etc. to live in the house. We see that these goods are co-operating with each other as complementary goods. similarly, we purchase ink along with a pen and petrol with a car for the satisfaction of our wants.

Are Satisfiable:

A human want can be satisfied even though temporarily. For example, in case of hunger, we take food and feel satisfied. Similarly, in case of thirst, we take coke and are satisfied.


Munir Ahmed Bhutta. Economics, Azeem Academy Publishers, Lahore.

Abdul Haleem Khawja. Economics, Khawja and Khawja Publishing House, Islamabad.

Manzoor Tahir Ch. Principles of Economics, Azeem Academy Publishers, Lahore.

Muhammad Irshad. Economics, Naveed Publications, Lahore.

K K Dewett & M H Navalur. Modern Economic Theory (Theory and Policy), S. Chand Publishing


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