Economics is the social science that studies the choices that individuals, businesses, governments, and entire societies make as they cope with scarcity, the influences on those choices, and the arrangements that coordinate them.
Robbin’s Definition of Economics
According to Lionnel Robbins-” Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.”
This definition focused its attention on a particular aspect of human behavior that concerns with the utilization of scarce resources to satisfy unlimited ends (wants).
Criticisms of Robbin’s Definition
Though Robbin’s definition of economics is more scientific as compared to other Definitions, it is also not free from defects. The definition of economics given by Robbins is criticized on the following grounds.
1. Confusion between Means and End:
Robbins believes That means and ends are easily separable. But in practice, it is difficult to find differences between means and end. For instance, a postgraduate student aims at getting a degree. This becomes an end for him. Once he gets it, he uses it as a means to get employment. Thus, the same thing may be means in one situation and the end in another.
2. Fails to Address Issues of Modern Economy:
Robbin’s definition fails to explain contemporary issues of the modern economy such as poverty, unemployment, inflation, trade cycles, economic growth, and development, etc.
3. Devoid of Normative Element:
As per Robbins, economics is neutral between ends. This statement has made economics quite colorless, impersonal and devoid of any normative element. If economics is to serve as an engine of economic welfare, the normative aspect cannot be ignored.
4. Economic Problems Arise not only from Scarcity:
According to Robbins’ definition, an economic problem arises due to the scarcity of resources. But problems like unemployment, etc. also arise due to an abundance of resources. The problem of unemployment is not only due to the scarcity of capital but also due to the abundance of manpower.
5. Hidden Concept of Welfare:
Robbins has criticized the concept of welfare definition
of Marshall, but critics claim that his definition itself includes the concept of welfare through the back door. Robbin’s definition of economics is concerned with the choice between wants and allocation of resources for maximum satisfaction. Intact, maximum satisfaction implies maximum welfare.
6. Wrong Assumption:
Robbins assumed that economics is a positive science. In all economic statements, the questions like what was, what is and what will be can be put. So critics argued that economics is both a positive and normative science.
7. Wider Scope than Needed:
This definition includes the study of all economic activities related to the allocation of resources. Since all of the economic activities of human life are included, its scope is vast. It makes difficult to draw the line of demarcation of
8. Economics cannot be Neutral between Ends:
The question of allocation of resources cannot arise without welfare being brought under consideration. Resource allocation implies a choice to be made between competing ends. Choice relative Comparison between ends. So economics cannot be neutral between ends.