Consumerism is becoming the hallmark of most world economies. In the West, it is a common phenomenon, but now even developing countries in the world are resorting to it.

Consumerism refers to the consumption of goods at a higher rate. The economy is judged by the production and selling of goods. The gross national product is the sum total of goods and services produced for a specific period at a specific time. The more goods produced and consumed by society the higher the growth rate of the economy. The prosperity of a nation is judged by the per capita income of individuals residing in it. The economy is considered to be” doing well” if the purchasing power of the people is high.

effects of consumerismIn consumer society, people replace their goods with newer ones. They purchase goods, use them and throw them away. New goods when they become old are replaced by newer ones. The question of repair does not arise People have money to purchase goods in plenty. In case, they do not do so as it leads to recession and depression and also results in unemployment.

What are the effects of the consumerism?
Consumerism is appreciated in Western economies since a person’s standard of living is valued by his or her material possessions. There are certain positive effects such as:

Positive Consumerism Effects:
Primary positive consumerism effects are:

  • More industrial production.
  • A higher growth rate economy.
  • More goods and services available.
  • More advertising since goods manufactured have to be sold.
  • Increased production will result in more employment opportunities.
  • A variety of goods and services to choose from.
  • More comforts for a better living style.

There are always certain pitfalls to a given situation in a society. Material prosperity may be there in consumerism but, it has its negative effects on the people and society at large.

Negative Consumerism Effects:
Top negative consumerism effects are:

  • Craving for goods is high. The wants and desires of the people increase. The better their income, the better their purchasing power. But in case, they are not able to do so, then they feel dissatisfied.
  • One is in a rat race to earn more and is forced to cope up with stress and other work related tensions.
  • Material wealth is the deciding factor about whether a society is highly developed or not. Spiritual values are underplayed. This may not be suitable to a person from the East, who generally is appreciative of spiritual values.
  • Over-dependence on labor saving devices.
  • A car for each individual would mean gradual erosion of public transport.
  • Crime rate also increases as wants to possess expensive gadgets increase. Thefts become common and daylight robberies take place.
  • Personal relationships also get affected as people are busy trying to earn more to maintain their standard of living.
  • Cheaper goods are imported from other goods affecting the growth of locally based manufacturing industries.
  • Consumerism has also resulted in ecological imbalances. The natural habitat is being destroyed to create more goods and build more buildings affecting the weather. Global warming will eventually result in health problems. Industrial pollution is affecting people in many ways.
  • People lifestyles have also changed in the sense they are more lavish, full of material comforts rather than focusing on simplicity. The Eastern spiritualism and philosophy has always laid emphasis on simplicity. Gandhian principles and values favor a non-materialistic approach to life. Even well known sages such as Jiddu Krishnamurthi have also eulogized simplicity in one’s lifestyles and thinking.
  • Consumerism is also depleting the natural resources of the respective country.
  • Psychological health also can get affected if one’s desires are not meant such as depression. Jealousy and envy can lead to crime.

The United States is a consumer economy and is known for its material growth and prosperity. But presently, the economy is reeling under the pressure of recession. People who have lost their jobs are finding it difficult to meet both their ends. In the East, India is also progressing towards materialism, although this goes against its ancient philosophical approach towards materialism, which favors a simple, non-materialistic life.

 
 

12 Comments

  1. Blake says:

    I think a radical shift in what we consider progress would change how we view our economic well-being. Our society is so focused on economic growth, but not so much on actual development.

    An example: destroying wildlife habits to open a new coal mine and pollute the atmosphere with even more CO2 certainly grows our economy, but is this “progress”? Instead, we could work to become more energy efficient, eliminating the need for a new coal mine. The economy wouldn’t grow per say, but I would submit that that is more progress than the former scenario.

    This was a really good list, btw. I recently wrote about the negative effects of consumerism, but looked over some of the points you mentioned.

  2. Atharva says:

    Excellent essay!!!!! awesome ……

  3. rida zuberi says:

    thank you very much.
    the info was very helpful.

  4. Yacov says:

    Well written essay, however some information on consumerism as it effects other less development nations would be helpful.

  5. ahahahahahhhh i just ripped u off ^^^ says:

    2 Comments
    Blake
    07/03/2009 at 11:14 am
    I think a radical shift in what we consider progress would change how we view our economic well-being. Our society is so focused on economic growth, but not so much on actual development.

    An example: destroying wildlife habits to open a new coal mine and pollute the atmosphere with even more CO2 certainly grows our economy, but is this “progress”? Instead, we could work to become more energy efficient, eliminating the need for a new coal mine. The economy wouldn’t grow per say, but I would submit that that is more progress than the former scenario.

    This was a really good list, btw. I recently wrote about the negative effects of consumerism, but looked over some of the points you mentioned

  6. Dipakar Tewari says:

    I think this article is good. But it could have been better if there was more insight into the “Demonstration effect”, which is actually the root cause of consumerism in the developing and under-developing nations.

  7. Amit says:

    The ill effects are considerable.
    depleting natural resources mean battle for scarce commodities esp scarce ones like oil , iron ore. Countries even go for military over stretch to accomplish this.

    we also see wasteful production/distribution pattern.

    increase in both private.public debt even to extent of bankruptcy.

    We should strive for prosperity rather than mass consumption and growth should also factor the damage done to environment

  8. prof. O P Monga says:

    Well articulated. Consumerism affects all of us. But negative effects of consumerism have started weighing heavily on our environment and social structure. There is urgent need to make consumerism more judicious to realise our goal of sustainable development. We need to be more humane than to be consumers. We should not forget, without humanity, consumerism loses its relevance. Survival of organisms in healthy living should over ride all other domains of life. Let us all introspect and act in this direction !

  9. premkumar khumanthem says:

    one bad effect is, as the condition of consumerism increases more the waste materials increase. because people tends to buy new things without considering the recycling of the older ones. as the coming of the modern technique in production of goods increas the older ones are useles and move to waste materials… and increase in the waste materials…

  10. soyi&ajesh says:

    I think a radical shift in what we consider progress would change how we view our economic well-being. Our society is so focused on economic growth, but not so much on actual development.

    An example: destroying wildlife habits to open a new coal mine and pollute the atmosphere with even more CO2 certainly grows our economy, but is this “progress”? Instead, we could work to become more energy efficient, eliminating the need for a new coal mine. The economy wouldn’t grow per say, but I would submit that that is more progress than the former scenario.

    This was a really good list, btw. I recently wrote about the negative effects of consumerism, but looked over some of the points you mentioned

  11. taylor says:

    how about the social costs of consumerism? the environmental costs of consumerism? add those in. it helps people to better understand

  12. Aanchal says:

    What is your take on planned obsolescence and its connection to Consumerism?

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