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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Scarce" redirects here. For the surname, see Scarce (surname). For the New York based band, seeScarce (band).

Scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having humans who have unlimited wants and needs in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfil all human wants and needs. Alternatively, scarcity implies that not all of society's goals can be pursued at the same time; trade-offs are made of one good against others. In an influential 1932 essay, Lionel Robbinsdefined economics as "the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses."[1]

In biology, scarcity can refer to the uncommonness or rarity of certain species. Such species are often protected by local, national or international law in order to prevent extinction.


Scarcity in Economics

Goods (and services) that are scarce are called economic goods (or simply goods if their scarcity is presumed). Other goods are called free goods if they are desired but in such abundance that they are not scarce, such as air and seawater. Too much of something freely available can informally be referred to as a bad, but then its absence can be classified as a good, thus, a mown lawn, clean air, etc.

Economists study (among other things) how societies perform the allocation of these resources — along with how communities often fail to attain optimality and are instead inefficient. More clearly scarcity is our infinite wants hitting up against finite resources[citation needed].

Physical goods are likely to remain inherently scarce by definition. Also some non-physical goods are likely to remain scarce by design, examples include positional goods[2] such as awards generated byhonor systems, fame, and membership of elite social groups. These things...