Difference Between Needs and Wants

Main Difference – Needs vs Wants

Need and want are two words that we frequently use interchangeably. But have you ever wondered whether there is any difference between needs and wants? Although these two words are often used as synonyms, there is an important difference between needs and wants, especially in the field of economic and finance. A need is an essential requirement or a necessity whereas a want is a desire. The fulfilment of needs is essential for one’s survival whereas fulfilment of wants is not essential for one’s survival. This is the main difference between needs and wants.

This article will cover in detail,

1. What is Need? What does it mean?

2. What is Want? What does it mean

3. Key Differences Between Needs and Wants

Difference Between Needs and Wants - infographic

What are Needs

Needs are the basic requirements or necessities that are essential for your survival. In other words, they are the things you have to have, or cannot do without. So, what are the basic needs for a human being’s survival? As we all know, a human being cannot survive without Oxygen, water and food. In addition to these three elements, there are some other needs that are essential to live a healthy and happy life. Some of these needs include basic health care products, clothing, tools to work, and protective housing.

Needs can be classified into two types: subjective needs and physical needs. The above-described needs such as food, water and clothing belong to physical needs. These are the basic needs or physiological needs of a human being. Subjective needs are the psychological needs of an individual. These include self-esteem, sense of security and love.

Failure to fulfil needs may cause a clear adverse outcome. It can lead to severe mental or physical illness. In some cases, inability to meet needs may also result in death.

Main Difference - Needs vs Wants

Food to suppress hunger is a basic need

What are Wants

Wants are desires. Wants are the things that you would like to have. But, they are not essential to your survival. Every person has his own set of desires or wants. A big house, fancy food, branded clothes; a new car, trip to a foreign country, etc. are some of the wants that many people have. Wants can change over time. For example, when you were a child, you might have wanted to buy a big toy castle. But as you grow older, your tastes and preferences change, so, your desires change with them. Although the inability to fulfill a want may not cause death or physical illness, it may result in mental distress.

If you are not sure whether the thing you desire is a need or a want, all you have to do is to ask yourself the question “can I survive without this?” If it is a need, the answer would be no and if it was a want, the answer would be yes.

Difference Between Needs and Wants

Difference Between Needs and Wants


Needs: Needs are necessities or essentials.

Wants: Wants are desires.


Needs: Needs are essential for survival.

Wants: Wants are not essential survival.

Change over time

Needs: Needs do not change over time.

Wants: Wants change over time.


Needs: Non-fulfilment of needs can lead to adverse outcomes.

Wants: Non-fulfilment of wants may result in mental distress.


Needs: All individuals have the same basic needs.

Wants: Wants may differ according to different individuals.

Image Courtesy: Pixbay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.