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Comparison Between Marshall’s and Robbin’s Definitions of Economics

According to Marshall, economics is a science of material welfare. His definition has focused on the role of mankind as well as wealth in economic life. But Robbins’s definition considered economics as a study of scarcity and choice. A comparative study of both definitions is made on the basis of their similarities and differences.

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Similarities between Robbins’s & Marshall’s definition can be shown in the following points.

1. Primary importance to man
Both Marshall and Robbins have given primary importance to man. According to Marshall, economics studies man in relation to wealth. Robbins definition studies human behavior as a relationship between end and scares means which have alternative uses. The ultimate aim of the two definitions is the same about the study of human beings.

2. Wealth and scare means
Marshall has used the word wealth in the process of defining economics. Robbins has used the phrase scare means instead of wealth. Though they are not the same, but similar because in economics, wealth is goods which are scare. So, Marshall has directly explained about wealth and Robbins has indirectly explained about wealth.

3. Welfare and satisfaction.
Marshall assumes that the main aims to utilize wealth to achieve maximum material welfare, whereas Robbin's maximum material welfare, whereas Robbins assumes that the main aims to utilize scarce resources to achieve maximum satisfaction. In reality, there is no wider difference between welfare and satisfaction. Thus the definitions of both are similar.

Some dissimilarities between Robbins and Marshall’s definition are as follows:

Marshall’s definition Robbins’s definition
1. Marshall’s definition is simple and fair. 1. This definition is complex.
2. This definition is classificatory as material & non-material, economic & non-economic activities. 2. This definition is analytically based on basic economic problems.
3. The objective of this definition is material welfare. 3. This definition is neutral about the objective.
4. This definition considers economics as asocial science. 4. This definition considers economics as a human science.
5. Marshall’s definition is based on normative science. 5. Robbins’s definition is based on the concept of positive science.
6. Economics is related to an ordinary man. 6. Economics is related to both ordinary and extraordinary man.