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Want vs. Need: Basic Economics

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• Part 2: More and a Quiz

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Part 1: Basic Wants and Needs

One of the most basic concepts of economics is want vs. need.

What are they exactly?

A need is something you have to have, something you can't do without. A good example is food. If you don't eat, you won't survive for long. Many people have gone days without eating, but they eventually ate a lot of food. You might not need a whole lot of food, but you do need to eat.

A want is something you would like to have. It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have. A good example is music. Now, some people might argue that music is a need because they think they can't do without it. But you don't need music to survive. You do need to eat.

These are general categories, of course. Some categories have both needs and wants. For instance, food could be a need or a want, depending on the type of food.

You need to eat protein, vitamins, and minerals. How you get them is up to you (and your family). You can eat meat, nuts, or soy products to get protein. You can get fruits and vegetables to get vitamins and minerals. You can eat yogurt or cheese to get other vitamins and minerals. You can eat bread to get still more vitamins and minerals. These basic kinds of foods are needs.

Ice cream is a want. You don't really need to eat ice cream to survive. You can eat it to get some vitamins and minerals, but other foods like cheese and yogurt give you more of those same vitamins and minerals without giving you the fat that ice cream does. Still, ice cream tastes good to many people. They like to eat it. They want it, but they don't need it. They like it, but they don't have to have it to survive.

OK, we've covered food. What other kinds of things does your body need to survive?

Next page > More and a quiz > Page 1, 2


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