Read this section to learn about the basic problem of scarcity and the study of economics. Be sure to click through to read each of the pages in this section. As you read, reflect on the things that society needs and the resources that are needed for production like natural resources, money, labor, etc. Every society needs to take into account the problem of scarcity, and that decisions are needed to choose from producing one thing over another. An example is choosing between having a natural wild environment by not developing a piece of land, or developing that land for housing.
Specialization only makes sense, though, if workers can use the pay they receive for doing their jobs to purchase the other goods and services that they need. In short, specialization requires trade.
You do not have to know anything about electronics or sound systems to play music – you just buy an iPod or MP3 player, download the music and listen. You do not have to know anything about artificial fibers or the construction of sewing machines if you need a jacket – you just buy the jacket and wear it. You do not need to know anything about internal combustion engines to operate a car – you just get in and drive. Instead of trying to acquire all the knowledge and skills involved in producing all of the goods and services that you wish to consume, the market allows you to learn a specialized set of skills and then use the pay you receive to buy the goods and services you need or want. This is how our modern society has evolved into a strong economy.