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Robbins Definition Of Economics – Scarce Means Definition

Introduction Of Robbins

Prof Lionel Robbins

Robbins definition of Economics challenged Dr. Marshall’s definition of Economics which was a major improvement over the definition of Adam Smith and other ancient Economists. Before Prof. Lionel Robbins, Prof. Marshall tried to give a complete and faultless definition of economics. At that time people started thinking that the Economic Science has completely developed and matured. But in 1932, after the publication of Prof. Robbins’s book An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Social Science, a controversy roused in the field of Economics. He tried to give economics another shape, apart from material welfare. In the words of Robbins

Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.

Characteristics Of Robbins Definition

Following are the main characteristics of Robbins’ definition

  1. Unlimited Wants

    According to Prof Robbins definition, human wants are unlimited. On satisfaction of one wants, another want arises immediately, and this sequence continues forever.

  2. Scarce Means

    Robbin’s definition stated that on one side human needs are unlimited yet on the other side, the means to satisfy these wants, like- time, power, money, etc. are also limited. Due to this, many of man’s needs remain unsatisfied.

  3. Alternative Use of Scarce Means

    In Robbins’s view though the to ‘satisfy man’s needs are scarce, yet he has alternative uses. In other words, he can use every resource in various objectives and activities. For example – such a resource like land can be use in many ways, such as it can be used for agriculture or for building a house or to establish a factory etc.

  4. Variation in the Intensity of wants

    Robbins definition states that the intensity of man’s needs is different. Some wants are more intense than the others. Since our means are limited and all wants cannot be satisfied with the limited means; as a result, we have to select some more intense wants from our unlimited wants and the less intense wants have to be either dropped or postponed to a future date.

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