Human wants can be classified into three categories necessaries, comforts and luxuries.
Necessaries refer to the basic or primary wants for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, etc.
These are the urgent needs of human beings. A person has to face several difficulties without the satisfaction of these wants.
Necessaries may be further classified into three categories.
(a) Necessaries of existence:
There are the goods and services without which human life is impossible. Food, water, air, clothing and accommodation are examples of such necessaries.
(b) Necessaries for efficiency:
These refer to the goods and services which are not required for survival. Rather they are necessary to make people efficient. For example, a person can survive without books and stationery. But their use will make him more efficient.
(c) Conventional necessaries:
These mean the things which have become necessary due to habits, customs and traditions. For example, wearing of new clothes on marriage, decorating houses on Diwali, cutting cakes on birthdays are not required for maintaining life or increasing efficiency. These have become necessary by force of habits and social customs.
Comforts refer to the goods and services which make life easier and comfortable. They provide freedom from suffering, anxiety, pain, etc. Comforts improve our health and efficiency.
For example, a chair may be necessary for efficiency but a cushion on it will make us comfortable. Comforts like fans, coolers, well furnished houses cheer our minds.
Luxuries refer to the goods and services which give us pleasure and prestige. Motor cars, air conditioners, diamond jewellery, designer clothes, etc. are examples of luxuries. These things may not increase efficiency or comfort but they provide us happiness and status in society.
The above classification of wants is not rigid. A thing which is a comfort or luxury for one person or at one point of time may become a necessity for another person or at another point of time.
For example, a car may be a luxury for a laborer, a comfort for a teacher but a necessity for a doctor. Whether a certain want is a necessity, a comfort or a luxury depends upon the person, the place, the time and the circumstances.
The things which were considered luxuries in the past have become comforts and necessaries today.
For example, television was a luxury twenty years ago. But now it is a comfort. Similarly, computers may be comfort for many in India but it has become a necessity in America.