Wellbeing and Welfare: Concepts and Distinction

The words “welfare” and “wellbeing” have two very different meanings in economics.

The most familiar meaning to the general public is that Welfare refers to a collection of government programs such as food stamps and Medicare, usually intended to help the poor.

However, economists more often use the word “welfare” in a very different sense–as a synonym for wellbeing. Welfare or wellbeing refer to an overall condition emphasizing happiness and contentment, though also including one’s standard of living in financial or material ways. Welfare in this sense more commonly refers to the condition of an entire country or economy, which is sometimes emphasized by using the phrase “social welfare.” Welfare in the sense of wellbeing turns out to be an easier concept to imagine than to analyze carefully. It is even harder to measure.

Economists have always recognized that not all happiness derives from being financially well off. We all know that being wealthy is not the same as being happy. However, it is rather hard to quantify happiness, and even harder to aggregate happiness across people because people generally have a variety of tastes. Consequently, over the years economists have invented some specialized technical names for happiness, including utility, satisfaction, preferences, tastes, indifference curves, wellbeing, and welfare.

The concept of social welfare sometimes leads to discussions of distribution of income and income inequality.

Well-beingwellbeing, or wellness is the condition of an individual or group. A high level of well-being means that in some sense the individual’s or group’s condition is positive.

Wellness refers to diverse and interconnected dimensions of physical, mental, and social well-being that extend beyond the traditional definition of health. It includes choices and activities aimed at achieving physical vitality, mental alacrity, social satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and personal fulfillment.

Well-being is a positive outcome that is meaningful for people and for many sectors of society, because it tells us that people perceive that their lives are going well. Good living conditions (e.g., housing, employment) are fundamental to well-being. Tracking these conditions is important for public policy. However, many indicators that measure living conditions fail to measure what people think and feel about their lives, such as the quality of their relationships, their positive emotions and resilience, the realization of their potential, or their overall satisfaction with life—i.e., their “well-being.”1 Well-being generally includes global judgments of life satisfaction and feelings ranging from depression to joy.


The Library of Economics and Liberty



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Evolution of Kinship Societies into Tributary Societies: An Important Step in Development of Cities

The first cities emerged as a result of a fundamental reorganization of food
production and economic diversification in human societies. Before the advent of cities, ancient peoples lived in clan groups and villages organized around extended kin, or family, relationships and sustained by hunting and gathering of food supplies. Kinship is system of social organization based on  real or putative family ties Gradually these villagers grew more knowledgeable of the various attributes of wild plants in the local area. Over time, as those plants were fully domesticated and controlled by humans, crop yields began to increase. Increasing food supplies, in turn, led to increasing populations, as more and more people could be sustained by the growing food supply. This eventually resulted in the transformation of small kin-based villages into larger towns, and eventually cities.
As a result, more efficient farming methods developed and led to
increased yields, some members of a society could be released from the daily farming tasks to perform other tasks that were becoming necessary. For example, there was an growing need for containers to store and transport the growing food supplies. This led to the emergence of pottery. As some members of the community became full-time pottery makers, the skill and sophistication of the resulting pottery increased . Other crafts emerged, including metallurgy, the working of various metals into tools and implements. The combination of improved agriculture
and new crafts was an explosive one. New tools and farming implements further increased agricultural productivity, enabling additional community members to be released to develop even more crafts. A larger food supply led to increased population which in turn provided more labor available for agriculture, and so on.

This also led to increased prosperity and more complicated arrangements.
At the center of these new arrangements was the transfer of agricultural
surpluses from the producers of that surplus (the farmers) to the consumers of that surplus (the non-farming city population). In a simple, face-to-face society, this transfer could be voluntary, as villagers shared their produce with relatives or family members. But in the more complex urban societies then emerging, most people were not related to each other and, indeed, did not know each other. In this situation, it would be unlikely that a hard-working farmer would voluntary give up a portion of his produce to non-relatives without some form of persuasion or
coercion. This “persuasion” could take many forms. Most commonly, city
authorities would promise protection and services (such as irrigation maintenance) in return for regular levees of “tribute” in the form of produce or labor services.
Scholars have termed this type of society a “tributary society.” Virtually all
societies in history that advanced beyond simple village arrangements were tributary societies, until the advent of industrial capitalist economies in the modern era.
As human settlements increased in size and complexity, the social networks based on kinship relations began to break down. In a village community organized around extended families, everyone knew each other and interacted with other members of their community in close face-to-face relationships. Disputes that arose could be contained and resolved by the intervention of other family members before they escalated into violence. But as population growth transformed those
small kinship societies of a few hundred people into towns and cities of tens of thousands of people, the old face-to-face relationships could no longer govern social relations. Now, many encounters would take place between people who did not know each other and were not bound to each other by extended family relationships. New systems of social management were needed, leading to the emergence of law codes, police forces and governing elites to manage these new systems. The hierarchical society of the city was born……


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Religion as a Social Group

A social group is a collection of people who interact with each other and share similar characteristics and a sense of unity. A social category is a collection of people who do not interact but who share similar characteristics. Religion, by this definition is also a social group.

Religion is human’s relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual or divine. Religion consists of a person’s relation to God or to gods or spirit. Religion involves various laws and prohibitions that guide people in their day to day life. These laws or commandments are to serve as guidance to avoid deviations from what is known as normal .


Based on the existence of the number of God or gods religions can be classified into


Belief in the existence of one God.Monotheism is defined as the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world.A broader definition of monotheism is the belief in one god.

Three main religions are known in this case, Christianity, Islam and Judhaism.


The belief in the existence of many gods. These include hinduism,Budhaism and African traditional religions.PPolytheism characterizes virtually all religions other than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which share a common tradition of monotheism, the belief in one God.

Sometimes above the many gods a polytheistic religion will have a supreme creator and focus of devotion, as in certain phases of Hinduism (there is also the tendency to identify the many gods as so many aspects of the Supreme Being); sometimes the gods are considered as less important than some higher goal, state, or saviour, as in Buddhism; sometimes one god will prove more dominant than the others without attaining overall supremacy, as Zeus in Greek religion. Typically, polytheistic cultures include belief in many demonic and ghostly forces in addition to the gods, and some supernatural beings will be malevolent; even in monotheistic religions there can be belief in many demons, as in New Testament in Christianity.


The belief in the existence of no God. In this case, the person doesn’t have belief in the existence of something supernatural or supreme.

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities.[Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist.In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism,[which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.


The doctrine that there is oneness of creation and creator. Meaning there is no difference between God and what he created. The universe is conceived as a whole in God. There is no God,the substance forces and laws put the universe in order God and nature are 2 names for the same thing(identical reality)otherwise,the totality of God and universe would be greater than God alone.

In panentheism, God is viewed as the soul of the universe, the universal spirit present everywhere, which at the same time “transcends” all things created.

While pantheism asserts that “all is God”, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe. Some versions of panentheism suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifestation of God. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God,[ like in the Kabbalah concept of tzimtzum. Also much Hindu thought – and consequently Buddhist philosophy – is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.[The basic tradition however, on which Krause’s concept was built, seems to have been Neoplatonic philosophy and its successors in Western philosophy and Orthodox theology



This is the belief in spiritual beings concerned with human affairs and are capable of intervening in them. Tylor made great contributions in this aspect.

The term animism denotes not a single creed or doctrine but a view of the world consistent with a certain range of religious beliefs and practices, many of which may survive in more complex and hierarchical religions. 


This is concerned with the belief in kingship or a mystical relationship between man and natural object e.g plants and animals.

Totemism is belief in the kinship of a group of people with a common totem. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) word ‘odoodem’ meaning “his kinship group” signifying a blood relationship. Totemism was the practice of having a natural object or animate being, such as as a bird or animal, as the emblem of a family, clan, or tribe. Totemism encompassed a system of tribal organization according to totems. A totem was believed to be mystically related to the group and therefore not to be hunted.

The totem adopted by a clan or family, most often an animal, is an object of religious veneration for the tribal community that bears the name of the totem refer to Animal Totems. The group’s members are therefore forbidden to hunt, kill, or eat the totem. Because of the family connections to the same totem, they are also forbidden to marry one another.







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Urban Primacy,the Primate City and Rank Size Rule

Urban Primacy is when one city is dominantly large in a group of cities. Usually when a largest city is over twice as large as the next city, this would constitute urban primacy. Other measures are more rigorous whereby a city is only primate when it is at least 3 times larger than the next two cities combined. Primacy is almost always calculated using this kind of population-size ratio. Ideally metropolitan level populations are used so as to avoid dividing the largest city by an adjacent centre.

The idea of primacy was first introduced by mark Jefferson in 1939. His proposition was that nationalism crystallizes in primate cities which are super eminent in both size and national influence. He assessed the degree of primacy by computing the ratio of the size  of the second and third ranking cities to that of the largest one. He found that in the forty-six countries of the world the largest cities were two or three times as large as the next largest city. The ratio of the population of the three largest cities approximated the sequence 100:30:20  ( i.e. the third largest is one-fifth the six of the largest). According to him there are various reasons for a city to exceed its neighbors in size, but once it did so the process became cumulative giving it an impetus to grow and draw away from all other cities in character as well as size. The particular ratio sequence has been later ignored, though the concept of the primate city and primacy is widely used.

primate city is the largest city in its country or region, disproportionately larger than any others in the urban hierarchy. A primate city distribution is a rank-size distribution that has one very large city with many much smaller cities and towns, and no intermediate-sized urban centers: a King effect, visible as an outlier on an otherwise linear graph, when the rest of the data fit a power law or stretched exponential function. The law of the primate city was first proposed by the geographer Mark Jefferson in 1939. He defines a primate city as being “at least twice as large as the next largest city and more than twice as significant.” Aside from size and economic influence, a primate city will usually have precedence in all other aspects of its country’s society, such as being a center of politics, media, culture and education and receive most internal migration.

The Rank-Size Rule

The rank-size rule says that ‘when ranks of cities, arranged in descending order, are plotted against their populations (rank 1 being given to the largest, and so on) in a doubly logarithmic graph, a rank-size distribution results’ (Das and Dutt 1993: 125), or to put it in much simpler words: ‘In an ordered set of cities representing a given country, the product of the rank and size of a city is constant’ (Dziewonski 1972: 73). The rank-size rule is also commonly referred to as Zipf’s Law because the model describing a constant relation between the size of an event and its rank was at first developed by G. Zipf. In the case of cities distribution by population, when the natural logarithms of the rank and of the city size (in terms of the number of people) are calculated and represented graphically, a remarkable log-linear pattern is attained, which is called the rank-size distribution. If the slope of the line is equal or close to -1 (a straight line), the relationship is known as Zipf’s Law.

Zipf’s has probably the best presentation of the empirical findings on rank and size of the cities. The rank size rule states that for a group of cities, usually those exceeding some size in a particular country, the relationship between size and rank of cities is given by:

Pr = P1/r

Where Pr = population of the largest city ranked r

P = population of the largest city

r = rank of city r

Rank Size Rule is a simple model which states that population size of a given city tends to be equal to the population of the largest city divided by the rank of the given city.

Rank-size rule analysis and ancient cities

The Rank Size Rule applies to the modern cities but when we try to apply the same law to the older cities we face difficulty in correlating the theory. The geographers try to correlate the data with the population datum which we don’t have in case of ancient cities and ancient city were characterized by city walls or fortifications but the settlement was never within the city walls, it always exceeded. The population of the city will depend on the city area. A larger city will have larger population.

Link(s) and Source(s):  

Rank Size Rule

Settlement Geography

Planning Tank

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