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Difference between needs and desires

We all know that economics is a social science, which deals with the functions of production, distribution and consumption. It is a question of making choices for the allocation of scarce resources, in order to make the best use and satisfy human needs and requirements. In economics, we often go through the terms needs and desires, but you wondered what their differences are. Needs they indicate the something you need to survive.

On the other hand, wants wants refer to something good to have, but not essential for survival. For the purpose of spending and saving money wisely, each person must know the difference between needs and desires.

Comparative chart

Basis for comparison Needs Needs
Sense Needs refer to the basic requirement of an individual who must be satisfied in order to survive. Desires are described as goods and services, which an individual likes to have, as part of his whims.
Nature Limited Unlimited
What is it? Something you must have. Something you wish to have.
represents need Desire
Survival Essential not essential
Change It can remain constant over time. It can change over time.
default It can cause onset of illness or even death. It can cause disappointment.

Definition of needs

By the term needs, we mean those requirements that are extremely necessary for a human being to live a healthy life. They are personal, psychological, cultural, social, etc. Which are important for an organism's survival.

In antiquity, the three basic human needs are food, clothing and shelter, but with the passage of time, education and health care also become an integral part, as they improve the quality of life. They are a person's first priority as they are the things that keep us safe and healthy. Therefore, if needs are not met over time, it can cause disease, inability to function properly or even die.

Definition of Wants

In economics, desires are defined as something that a person would like to possess, immediately or later. In a nutshell, desires are the desires that induce economic activities to produce these products and services required by the economy. They are optional, that is, an individual will survive, even if not satisfied. In addition, wishes may vary from person to person and from time to time.

We all know that human desires are unlimited while the means to satisfy those desires are limited. Hence, all the wishes of an individual cannot be fulfilled and must seek alternatives.

Key differences between needs and desires

The following points are noteworthy regarding the difference between needs and desires:

  1. The term "needs" defined as an individual basic requirement that must be met in order to survive. Desires are described as goods and services, which an individual likes to have, as part of his whims.
  2. Individual needs are limited while his desires are unlimited.
  3. Needs are something you need to have to live. On the contrary, desires are something you want to have, in order to add comfort to your life.
  4. Needs represent needs while desire indicates desires.
  5. Needs are important for the human being to survive. On the contrary, desires are not as important as needs, because a person can live without desires.
  6. Needs are those articles, which are required for life and do not change with time. On the contrary, the desires are those items, which are desired by an individual either at this time or in the future. Therefore, wishes may change over time.
  7. Since needs are essential to life, failure to fulfillment can lead to disease or even death. On the contrary, desires are not essential for living and therefore non-fulfillment does not have a great impact on a person's life, however, there may be disappointment.


With the discussion above, on these two concepts of economics, it was concluded that needs and desires are separate forces, which force actions for satisfaction. If needs are not met in time, a person's survival is at stake, while desires are something for which a greedy person, who does not challenge a person's survival if not satisfied.

Hence, needs can be distinguished from desires based on their level of importance. Hence, the distinction between what is required and what is desired.