Table of Contents

Homo Economicus


Homo Economicus, also known as Economic Man, is a concept in economic theory that describes humans as rational and self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgements towards their subjectively defined ends. This theoretical individual always makes decisions that provide the greatest benefit to him or her, and these decisions are made without the influence of biases or other emotional considerations. The concept is used as a basis for many economic models and theories.


The phonetic pronunciation for ‘Homo Economicus’ is /ˈhɒmoʊ iːkəˈnɒmɪkəs/.

Key Takeaways

Sure, here are the main takeaways about Homo Economicus.“`html

  1. Homo Economicus refers to the concept in economic theory portraying humans as consistently rational, narrowly self-interested agents who pursue their subjectively-defined ends optimally.
  2. The approach assumes humans have perfect access to information and they analyze this information with rationality to make decisions solely based on maximizing their utility or personal gain.
  3. While Homo Economicus provides a simple and mathematical formulation of human behavior, it has been criticized for oversimplifying and neglecting other human motivations like altruism, ethics and social behavior.

“`This means that the concept only provides a partial model of human decision-making processes.


The business/finance term “Homo Economicus” is important as it represents a theoretical concept in economics and political science that portrays humans as rational and narrowly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments towards their subjectively defined ends. This concept is an essential foundation in classical and neoclassical economic theories where it’s often used as a basis for mathematical models. These models use the simplifying assumption of Homo Economicus to predict economic outcomes, analyze market behavior, or formulate economic policies. However, the concept is subject to criticism due to its assumptions, which often diverge from reality, thus, highlighting the complexity and multi-dimensionality of human behavior.


Homo Economicus, often referred to as “Economic Man” , is a theoretical concept used by economists to understand and predict human behavior in economic situations. This concept assumes a person who is consistently rational, narrowly self-interested, and who pursues his subjectively defined ends optimally. Under this assumption, individuals are seen to flawlessly pursue their self-interest and readily possess perfect information about the future implications of their economic decisions. Economists use this model to predict an individual’s behavior without taking into account the complexities of human psychology.The key purpose of Homo Economicus is to provide a simplified model for economic analysis. Economists use this theoretical construct as a benchmark to predict how people will act under different economic situations or policy changes. It is used broadly in economic theories to construct mathematical models, which help economists simulate, understand, and predict economic activities. However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of the Homo Economicus model; real people often exhibit bounded rationality, do not have perfect information, and do care about others rather than focusing purely on self-interest. Therefore, while Homo Economicus serves as a useful starting point, additional considerations are often necessary to accurately reflect real-world economic behavior.


1. Investing in the Stock Market: Let’s consider a person who invests in the stock market. The Homo Economicus in this scenario would represent a type of investor who only makes financial decisions based on pure rational self-interest, irrespective of the company’s values or its effect on society. He or she would only be concerned with maximizing profits and minimizing losses, based on available information and potential risks and rewards.2. Consumer Behavior in Supermarkets: When shopping, a Homo Economicus might choose a product based purely on cost and utility rather than brand loyalty or emotions. For example, if a shopper has the choice between two identical items, but one is cheaper, a Homo Economicus would always opt for the cheaper item to maximize benefit per dollar spent.3. Employee Salary Negotiations: Here, an employee embodies the Homo Economicus when negotiating their salary. This person will gather all available information about the job market, average industry salaries, their skillset, company profits etc., to rationalize a demand for higher compensation. They look at the negotiation purely from a self-interest perspective, focusing solely on attaining the highest possible income. By doing this, they aim to increase their personal wealth and economic status.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What exactly is Homo Economicus?

Homo Economicus is an economic concept depicting a hypothetical person who makes decisions out of self-interest, aiming to maximize their personal utility with rationality and without any emotional influence.

Why is Homo Economicus important in Economics?

Homo Economicus is important because it’s a baseline model used to understand economic behavior. This theory assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the highest possible benefit.

How does Homo Economicus affect economic theories?

As a theoretical entity, Homo Economicus influences the formulation of various economic theories and models. It acts as a reference point, aiding in the interpretation of tendencies within economic systems.

Is Homo Economicus strictly a realistic model?

No, Homo Economicus is a simplified model. In real life, people’s decisions are affected by a variety of factors and aren’t always rational. The Homo Economicus model is rather a basis for understanding individual economic behaviors, not a perfect depiction of reality.

Does Homo Economicus act with morality or ethics?

The Homo Economicus model doesn’t incorporate notions of morality or ethics. It assumes people act primarily out of rational self-interest, rather than considering values or the welfare of others.

How does Homo Economicus make decisions?

Homo Economicus makes decisions based on the principle of utility maximization. This means he evaluates all available information, possibilities and outcomes and chooses the one that provides the most personal benefit.

Why is Homo Economicus often criticized?

Critics argue that Homo Economicus is an oversimplified version of human behavior. In reality, humans often behave irrationally and are influenced by emotions, social factors, and are not always focused on maximizing personal gains. They also point out the lack of ethical considerations in this model.

What are the alternatives to Homo Economicus model?

There are many alternative models that consider other human qualities such as altruism, ethics, irrationality and unpredictability. For example, Behavioral Economics is a field that studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on economic decisions.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More