Needs versus wants

December 17, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

How much does this happy-seeming family in Mali need?  Not more than they have, it would seem.  Or consider this Soweto family that lives in a 400 square foot home.  Or consider this family from Bhutan. For comparison, here’s a family from the U.S. and here’s a family from Japan. And here’s an especially happy looking family from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Each of these photos is by Peter Menzel, who photographed the possessions of families from around the world; the photos were published in a 1995 book called Material World.   Note: Some of these photos from Menzels own site display the goods acquired by a family since the time the 1995 photos were taken.

I had earlier commented on other similar photos Menzel had taken displaying what families from around the world eat.


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Category: American Culture, Consumerism

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Jeremy says:

    That's a fascinating series of photos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Having a lot of posessions may make life more comfortable, and can even distract you from from being unhappy. But the true path to happiness is through contentment. Knowing when you have enough. Contrary to the materialistic propaganda that bombards us in the form of advertising, materialism often moves us away from happiness.

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