This is my CENTRAL page for scarcity. It links to all available writings and references on this topic. See links at bottom of page. 


IDEA for a new paper on Scarcity: The Islamic Solution to Scarcity  -- proposed for joint work with Wahbelbari Amir


Start with:  

1:Economists assume that scarcity is fundamental problem, and suggest growth as solution. Quote from Keynes, and Samuelson, and many current growth theory books show that economists believe in growth as the solution to ALL economic problems

2:Easterlin Paradox shows that growth HAS NOT solved the problem of scarcity. Huge amounts of growth has taken place, but has not resulted in any change in happiness. WHY?

3:Scarcity occurs on two levels: One is EXTERNAL, which depends on what is out there, and the other is INTERNAL,which is a psychological state --

4: Another way to classify it is as Scarcity in terms of NEEDS and then in terms of WANTS. 

WANTS are flexible, and scarcity at this level CANNOT be fulfilled by increased production.

NEEDS are essential, and cannot be handled purely psychologically, although the pain of not having needs can be reduced by changing psychological attituden.

GROWTH would be the solution to scarcity if scarcity was NEEDS-based.  However it is not the solution to WANTS based scarcity.

ANOTHER MAIN problem is DISTRIBUTION> Although planetary goods are enough to end scarcity, HAVES do not want to share with have nots. These are the people who insist on growth and then pocket the maximal shares from growth, so that even growth does not end up helping the poor. 

Islamic Solution is BRILLIANT. Here are the keys:

1: We are encouraged to satisfy legitimate needs (who has forbidden people from wearing good clothes?)

2: We should not over-spend -- Excess spending is discouraged.

3: We should not follow our desires -- Spending on wants is discouraged.

4: Generosity is encouraged. Those have are encouraged to spend excess on others.  Here is a collection of material on generosity:

These steps PRECISELY solve the problems posed by scarcity. ADDITIONAL advantage is the psychologically, GENEROSITY is good for our well being. If instead of fulfilling my own idle desires, I spend it on needs of others, I will feel better -- happier more content.

References from my own papers and other relevant literature is gathered here. 

The Normative Foundations of Scarcity,” Real-World Economics Review, issue no. 61, 26 September 2012, pp. 22-39

Scarcity: East and West,”  Journal of Islamic Economics, Banking and Finance,Vol. 6, No. 1, January – March 2010.

There is also a lot of important data and references in:

 Islam VersusEconomics” Chapter 3 in Oxford University Handbook on Islam and the Economy, edited by Kabir Hassan and Mervyn Lewis, Oxford University Press, (2013 Forthcoming)

The Concept of Scarcity and its Implication on Human Behaviour: Searching the Qur’anic Perspective

Wahbalbari Amir Ahmed2010, international association for islamic economics

Review of Islamic Economics, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2010, pp. 147–171.

Lecture on Scarcity in Current Issues in Islamic Economics, 2010

Lecture on Scarcity in Current Issues In Islamic Economics 2009


                            Needs                            Want

Physical                    Distribution                            Does not exist = wants do not lead to physical scarcity
Psychological         Can be alleviated,not removed   ==Islam tells us STRONGLY to avoid this -- fulfilling idle desires

It is the fourth quadrant, fulfillments of psychological wants by growth, that is cause of tremendous waste and consumer society that we see around us.  

7. References

Lerner, Abba P. “The Economics and Politics of Consumer Sovereignty,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 62, No. 1/2 (Mar. 1, 1972), pp. 258-266

Raiklin, Ernest and Uyar, Bulent  On the relativity of the concepts of needs, wants, scarcity and opportunity cost, International Journal of Social Economics, Year: 1996 Volume: 23 Issue: 7 Page: 49 – 56

Robbins, Lionel. An essay on the nature and significance of economic science. London: Macmillan, 1932

Reuben, Julie A., (1996) The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality, University of Chicago Press.

Sen, Amartya (1983) Poverty and Famine: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, Oxford University Press, UK.

Sen, Amartya (1999) “The Possibility of Social Choice,” American Economic Review, Vol 89, No. 3, p 349-378

Stigler, George J. And Becker, Gary S. (1977)  “De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 67, No. 2, pp. 76-90 

Sugden, R (2004) “The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences,”  The American Economic Review, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1014-1033

Van Fraassen, Bastiaan C. (1980) The Scientific Image , New York: Oxford University Press

Vivian Walsh,Sen after Putnam”, Review of Political Economy, Volume 15, Number 3, July, 2003

Weston, S. C. (1994), “Toward a Better Understanding of the Positive/Normative Distinction in Economics,” Economics And Philosophy, VOL 10; No. 1

Charles K. Wilber, “ Ethics In Economic Theory” ,*post-autistic economics review*

Issue no. 20, 3 June 2003 <>                         






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Central Directory of All my published articles  Jan 17, 2018, 8:46 PM Asad Zaman
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Psychology of Scarcity Thinking and its ill-effects -- contrast with Abundance thinking  233k v. 1 Jan 17, 2018, 8:30 PM Asad Zaman

Published Version of Paper  Jan 17, 2018, 8:40 PM Asad Zaman

A previous (early) page of my writings/drafts on scarcity  Jan 17, 2018, 8:31 PM Asad Zaman