Needs, Rights and Public Policies: A Persective from Economic Theory
Revista de Economía Institucional, Vol. 11, No. 20, First semester of 2009
17 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2009
Date Written: June 30, 2009
Adam Smith held that needs comprise, “not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary”. In other words, they are socially determined. Needs are not independent of the budget constraints faced by each society. As economic growth displaces the production possibility frontier, both the scope of goods and services considered needs and the material possibility of their satisfaction increase. The doctrine of progressive realization of economic and social rights is an answer to the problem of how to relate the expansion of the scope of these rights with the resources available to fulfill them. It is a deliberative process that also involves a change in social values and preferences that can be illustrated with Wagner’s law. This change leads to the gradual expansion of the set of goods and services that can be considered merit goods.
Keywords: needs, progressive realization, rights, merit goods
JEL Classification: B1, K
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation