Similarities and Differences between Marshall’s and Robbin’s Definition of Economics

Marshall’s and Robbins’ definitions of economics have significantly impacted the field of economics. While they share some similarities, there are also significant differences between the two definitions. In this blog, we will explore the similarities and differences between Marshall’s and Robbins’ definitions of economics.

Similarities in Marshall’s and Robbin’s definitions of economics

  1. Both definitions recognize that economics is a social science that deals with human behaviour and decision-making.
  2. Both definitions recognize that scarcity is a fundamental problem in economics.
  3. Both definitions recognize that individuals must make choices based on limited resources.
  4. Both definitions recognize that the study of economics can help improve the material welfare of society.
  5. Both definitions recognize that economics is concerned with the allocation of resources.
  6. Both definitions recognize that studying economics can help understand how markets function.
  7. Both definitions recognize that economics can help to explain how societies produce, distribute and consume goods and services.

Differences between Marshall’s and Robbin’s definitions of economics

Marshall’s Definition Robbins’ Definition
Economics is the study of mankind in the ordinary business of life. Economics is the science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Economics is primarily concerned with the material welfare of society. Economics is concerned with the allocation of scarce resources among unlimited wants.
Marshall defines economics in terms of wealth, while Robbins defines economics in terms of scarcity. Robbins’ definition does not focus on material welfare as much as Marshall’s definition.
Marshall believes that economics can help to improve the material welfare of society. Robbins believes that economics can help to understand how societies allocate scarce resources.
Marshall’s definition emphasises the individual as the unit of analysis. Robbins’ definition places more emphasis on society as the unit of analysis.
Marshall’s definition is more descriptive in nature. Robbins’ definition is more analytical in nature.
Marshall’s definition is more focused on the study of markets. Robbins’ definition is more focused on the study of scarcity and choices.
Marshall’s definition is more applicable to a market economy. Robbins’ definition is more applicable to any economic system, whether market-based or not.
Marshall’s definition assumes that individuals act rationally to maximize their self-interest. Robbins’ definition does not assume that individuals act rationally or in their self-interest.
Marshall’s definition is more traditional and historical. Robbins’ definition represents a departure from traditional economic thought.

Whose definition is superior?

It’s difficult to say which definition of economics is better because both Marshall’s and Robbins’ definitions have advantages and disadvantages. Marshall’s definition, which focuses on material well-being and the study of everyday business activities, provides a complete understanding of the economy and its impact on society. It emphasizes the value of individual and societal well-being and calls for government intervention to address market failures and promotes the public good.

Robbins’ definition, on the other hand, emphasizes scarcity and individual choice and thus provides a more theoretical and abstract framework for studying economics. It highlights the fundamental issue of scarcity and the need to make decisions based on personal preferences and incentives. This definition is beneficial for analyzing market behaviour and comprehending how individuals and businesses react to changes in market conditions.

Also, read Chanakya’s and Adam Smith’s definitions¬†of Economics.

To sum up, Marshall’s and Robbins’ definitions have contributed to our understanding of economics in different ways, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. As a result, claiming that one definition is superior to the other is inappropriate. Instead, it is critical to recognize and combine their various perspectives to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the economy and its impact on society.