The Estimation of the Cost of Basic Needs: Some Data and some Basic Laws in the Field of Economic Psychology

  • Jean Stoetzel


From June 1945 to June 1979, representative samples of the French population were repeatedly asked the following question: “In your opinion what is the amount of money a family of four needs to get along in this community?” (in French: “A votre avis combien faut-il par mois pour une famille de quatre personnes dans votre localíté?”) The trend of the averaged answers appears on figure 1. The meaning of these answers is a matter of guesswork. They are evidently related to the increasing cost of living. For that reason, they were expected to provide a psychological measure, that is a “psychological index of the cost of living”. However, after a discussion which took place in 1972 at the Paris Statistical Association, the name was changed for “an estimation of the cost of basic needs”, or for short, ECBN. A considerable amount of data permitting the estimation of the cost of basic needs has been collected over thirty four years, and especially during the ten years 1970–1979. The analysis has brought about interesting findings, some of which may pass as basic laws of social psychology in the field of economics. A dozen or so of those findings are briefly outlined here, for the reader’s consideration.


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Copyright information

© Westdeutscher Verlag GmbH, Opladen 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Stoetzel

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