Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 23–36 | Cite as

Learning to consume – A theory of wants and the growth of demand

  • Ulrich Witt
Special Issue


The theory of economic growth takes little notice of what is happening on the demand side of the markets so that ever more goods and services can be sold. In order to make progress, this paper revives a classical notion in economics, the concept of wants, and re-casts it in terms of a behavioral theory. Hypotheses are discussed concerning the wants people pursue, the changes in these wants, and the corresponding consumption knowledge. The implications derived focus on why, in spite of the historically unique growth of per capita income in the modern economies, consumption has not been altogether satiated. In the suggested explanation, increasing variety of consumption items offered in the markets and increasing specialization of the consumers in their demand activities play a key role.

JEL-classification: D11, D13, O12, O40 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Witt
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for Research Into Economic Systems, Evolutionary Economics Unit, Kahlaische Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany (e-mail: DE

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