6 Criticism Against the Scarcity Definition of Robbins

(i) Welfare concept:

It is generally pointed out that Robbins has said much against the welfare but it is a fact that the concept of ‘welfare’ is implicit in the definition of Economics given by him. The very theme of ‘maximum satisfaction’ or (welfare) is present in the scarcity definition also.

(ii) Makes economics a pure science:

Robbins definition transforms the Economics into a pure science which has nothing to do with practice. He has not taken into account the social aspect of economic activities. There is no human touch in his definition.

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He is of the opinion that economics or economists should analyse an economic problem as a scientist analyses a compound but they should not pass any judgement on its use or prescribe any policy for it.

To take an example, our country is now suffering from rise in prices of commodities and services. Economists according to ‘Robbins should not analyse cause of price rise. They should not prescribe a set of policies to check rise in prices.

That is the work of policy makers and administrators. But this aspect of his definition was very much resented. In the laboratory of economics he is not concerned with matter but with human beings.

As pigou said Economics, therefore is bound to be both ‘light-bearing’ and ‘fruit-bearing’. We do not study economics as art sake; we study economics to improve the welfare of the society. Economics cannot be neutral between ends.

(iii) Abundance – an economic problem:

According to Robbins’ definition scarcity is considered as cause of economic problem. But it is a fact that even the abundance may cause an economic problem. The “Great Depression” during the ‘thirties’ of this century is a good example of economic crisis which was not because of scarcity, but due to surplus of goods.

(iv) Static view:

The definition given by Robbins has taken an entirely static view of scarcity problem, as it deals with the adjustments of given scarce resources with given scarce ends. This is a static and rigid approach to a dynamic problem.

(v) Robbins has ignored many modern economic problems:

Now-a-days it is not the problem to get the best out of given resources but how to distribute the national income, employment; regional developments which are also essential features of economic study. Robbins has not considered all these aspects of economics.

(vi) Over emphasis on scarcity:

Robbins’ definition lays too much emphasis on scarcity and neglects economic growth and development.

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