Central problem of an economy

Dear Student

Every economy faces three central problems due to the scarce availability of resources. This scarcity challenges the best possible usage of these available resources to fulfil the unlimited demands. The three central problems of an economy are as follows:

  1. What to produce and in what quantities?

The very first problem encountered by any economy is to decide what goods are to be produced and in what quantities or amount. An appropriate example was set by the Latin American nation Costa Rica;they dismantled their military in 1949 and invested the money, which earlier was spent on the maintenance of their army, on education and healthcare. Once it is decided, what to produce, the next decision is to estimate the amount or quantity of the production. So the economy constantly struggles to choose what to produce and in what quantities.

  1. How to produce?

The second problem that arrives is how to harvest the given or available resources? That is, what technique is to be used for producing various goods and services? It depends majorly on the nation's endowment of resources in deciding the optimum technique.  For example, in the case of unemployment in a country due to over population, labour-intensive techniques can be adopted.

  1. For whom to produce?

Finally, the purposeful distribution of final goods and services produced (national income) has to be done; that is, who gets what and how much? The economy needs to decide the best suitable machine for the distribution of the final products among different segments of society. The objective behind selecting such a mechanism is to reduce inequality of income, to reduce poverty and to add to the social welfare and standard of living of people.


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