Useful Notes on the Classification of Human Wants Under 3 Broad Categories (Necessaries, Comforts and Luxuries

(i) Necessaries of life:

Necessaries of life are those things that a person must need for existence. Without these things, a person cannot live. Articles of food, clothing, shelter, medicines -etc. come under necessaries of life. Life would be impossible without the articles coming under necessaries of life.

(ii) Necessaries for efficiency:

In order to be efficient a person needs goods and services more than the bare minimum necessaries of life. After getting the articles necessary for existence, a person requires additional goods and services to improve his (or her) ability and to achieve a high level of working capacity.

Such goods and services necessary to improve the ability to work more are usually referred to as necessaries for efficiency. Some examples may be given here for our clear understanding.

A good house, plenty of good food, some amount of milk, meal, fish, clothing etc., come under necessaries for efficiency for a common person. Usually a car for a busy doctor and chair and table for a student come under necessaries for efficiency.

(iii) Conventional necessaries:

Such kind of wants arises due to social and religious customs and habit. Some goods and services we require meeting our socio-cultural obligations and respecting to our tradition and force of habit. These things are neither necessary for life nor for efficiency.

Expenditure on marriage, funerals, birthday party etc. Further, due to habit, some people use betel, tea, tobacco, cigarettes etc. Our want for all these goods and services come under conventional necessaries.

2. Comforts:

Comforts consist of things that are needed to lead a decent and pleasant life. Without these things a person can live. Electric fan in summer, television, mobile phone, motor cycle, a furnished house, other consumer durables etc. are taken as articles of comfort at present. Such articles, in fact, increase efficiency.

3. Luxuries:

Many articles of consumption are there which are neither necessary for life nor for efficiency. Variety goods come under this category. Contesa Car, very costly furniture, diamond necklace very costly statues, huge and magnificent building and other status symbol articles come under this category.

So all kinds of human wants that we have discussed earlier come under necessaries, comforts and luxuries. Let us make a brief summary of various kinds of wants.

1. People want some articles that are very essential for survival. People also require something more than the minimum necessaries to achieve a relevant level of ability to work more. People also want things to meet social and religious custom or pressure of tradition or force of habit. All such wants come under necessaries.

2. We also want things that are required to lead an easy and pleasant life. All such wants for goods and services come under comforts. Comforts increase efficiency.

3. People also use several items of consumption which are neither necessary for survival nor for efficiency. They include such goods which a person requires for display and to satisfy vanity. Want for status symbol commodities come under this category of luxuries.

Necessaries, Comforts and Luxuries:

Wants have been classified into three groups such as necessaries, comforts and luxuries. Necessaries consist of things without which people cannot maintain his life, cannot maintain a relevant level of ability and cannot meet socio-cultural obligations and forces of habit.

Comforts consist of things that are required for a pleasant and easy life. Luxuries consist of things which people require to display and satisfy their vanity. But this classification is not rigid. The classification is relative.

With the passage of time and with the increase in the level of living we find this classification redundant. What has been considered luxuries in the past has now become a necessary. What is luxury to a poor man may be a necessary to a rich man.

What is necessary for a government servant may be a luxury to a farmer. In a developed country like America, UK, German and France, a motor car for an ordinary man is required for efficiency, but in an underdeveloped country like Nepal, it is a luxury. Gradually, we find a change in income, habit, taste and socio-economic conditions. All these changes make the classification relative.

Further, change of place would make a good luxury or necessary. However, goods are necessaries, comforts or luxuries depending upon the country, people, climate and income we are considering. Thus, the classification is neither permanent nor rigid.