Difference Between Scarcity vs. Shortage

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Main Difference

Economics is the branch of science that deals with the factors which determine the production, distribution, and consumption of stuff that is being produced by different companies and organizations. It is about studying the human behavior in which they create a relationship between the society and the resources they have and how they use them in order to meet the demands. There are many terms which are involved in this field that can be confusing for the people who do not have much idea about economics. Some of these terms are very similar to each other while other are entirely unlike. The ones who will be discussed in this space are Scarcity and Shortage. Both are different from each other but can be assumed same just by looking at the names. The differences between them are slight but still existent, and that will be discussed in this space. The best definition is of scarcity is that it is a deficiency. It is one of the main problems that are addressed in the field and is termed as the quantity that is not present in enough amount to deal with the human need. It is something that is permanent. On the other hand, the shortage is the lesser amount of something that exists but at a given moment isn’t available. It is the state in which something that is needed cannot be borrowed or produced in the amount required. It has to exist in the natural way and in the environment to make sure people are able to have access. These terms can be further elaborated with the help of examples. The best ones for scarcity are water, land, oil and even stuff like gas and minerals. They are not present in enough amounts and therefore we have to buy them as a consumer and the ones who produce them spend a lot of resources to obtain them. Every time we have to pay for something that means we have to buy something scarce. On the flipside, the shortage is something different. If you are getting something on a regular basis and then suddenly you fail to obtain it from the source you were, it can be called shortage. For example, if farmers go on a strike then it gets difficult to achieve stuff like milk and for that period of time milk will become short. There are many other differences between these two languages as well which will be discussed in the end, while a brief description of both the types is given in the next couple of paragraphs.

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Comparison Table

ScarcityShortage
DefinitionIt can be explained as something which is available in a limited amount in the natural form.It can be explained as something that is present in the atmosphere in one way or the other but at that particular time when it is needed.
IssueCannot be easily overcomeEasily overcome
Examplewater, land, oil and even stuff like gas and minerals.Farmers stop selling milk.

What is Scarcity?

It can be explained as something which is available in a limited amount in the natural form. If something is not there from the existing form, then it can be called as scarce. There are many things which can give a good idea of this term. For example, oil is obtained from the core of the earth and is present beneath the surface and even from the natural gas. The oil companies have to spend a lot of money and develop loads of techniques to make sure they are able to extract it in the best possible shape. Once they do it, they sell it to local companies which can use it in different forms and sell it to the consumers. The whole process takes a lot of time, and people have to pay for it. Therefore oil is considered scarce. Another example of scarcity is the water, natural gas, and even minerals that are present. If you have to pay for something that means you are doing so because it is scarce. We do not pay for the fruits we grow in our homes or the sand that is present on streets because they are existent in the abundance of the amount. The money is the measure according to which it is decided how scarce is something. There are many other ways to describe this term as well.

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What is Shortage?

It can be explained as something that is present in the atmosphere in one way or the other but at that particular time when it is needed. It cannot be obtained. This can be because of several reasons. For example, if farmers go on a strike then it gets complicated to collect stuff like milk and for that period of time milk will become short. This will stay there until the strike is over and once it is over, you can quickly obtain the same thing again. There are many examples of shortage that can be helpful in understanding the whole concept. For example, recently, the prices of petrol were increased and because of the reason it was not available in the market since the companies wanted to sell it at an even higher price. In the supply chain if something is more in demand than the supply it is considered to be short. If the sellers or the ones who are making the product want, they can increase the amount and then there won’t be any shortage. When the amount of product in the market reaches a specific price shortage is created so that the prices could go higher. There are many factors involved, but the fact is that deficit can be compensated quickly. It is the more occurring term among the two being discussed.

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Key Differences

  1. The shortage can be easily overcome while scarcity ‘s hard to overcome.
  2. The shortage is temporary while poverty is permanent.
  3. Scarcity is something that is not present in an abundant amount in the atmosphere while shortage is something that is existent but at a particular time isn’t available.
  4. Scarcity can be termed as the quantity that is not present in enough amount to deal with the human need. The shortage is the lesser amount of something that exists but at a particular time isn’t available.
  5. The best ones for scarcity are water, land, oil and even stuff like gas and minerals. The best scenario to explain shortage is that if farmers go on a strike, then it gets difficult to obtain things like milk and for that period of time milk will become short.
  6. Air is available in an abundance of the amount and is free of cost so it cannot be scarce, but the amount of clean air available can become short since the industrial revolution has some consequences.

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Conclusion

It is easy to understand the difference between the two above terms. Both are very different from each other and there is no similarity what so ever. Optimistically, this space would have provided a general idea and detailed explanation since it has laid out the main differences and explanation about the topic.