Optimum Quantity when Value is Zero: How Many Concerts?

In many cases, especially in the rich countries, an economy will produce numerous outputs that are non-essential in that they satisfy wants instead of needs. Such outputs either generate no positive health effects when they are consumed, or the health effects are so diffuse or difficult to identify that they cannot realistically be quantified.

Some minor examples are movies, electronic gadgets, and concerts. More significant examples include scientific research and the construction of universities and museums.

The questions of whether and at what quantities society should sanction wants requires mature social judgments. Such judgments should take into account how widely shared these wants are, alternative production possibilities (the allocation issue), the input cost of production, and ecological limits.

ENL's treatment of this important topic takes into account the environmental factors and ecological limits not included in the present section.

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