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In economic theory, consumption is the consumption of goods and services for the purpose of directly or indirectly satisfying needs .


Already in Georg Friedrich Meier's book “ Metaphysik ” (1748) the word consumption , which comes from the Old High German verb “firbrühhen”, was known: “The consumption or wear and tear of a thing consists in the use of a useful thing that causes it to perish”. The linguist Johann Christoph Adelung described consumption as a young word in 1776. He classified “foreign consumption” as a convenient word, although it was “not yet very practicable”.

However, the downfall of a thing as described by Meier is only one of several options for consumption today. Consumption or use are also forms of consumption, as a result of which the benefit of the good or service is no longer available, in a different form or to a different extent due to a change in status or transformation. Since the use determines the good, the good no longer exists afterwards, no longer in the same form or to a different extent, but in a smaller amount or as a secondary product, which can be less valuable , worthless or even harmful . In this sense, consumers can not only be humans , but also a machine (e.g. a motor ) that converts energy into another form.


The term consumption occurs in many specialist areas . This includes in particular economics , business administration , law or energy .


In economics, the consumption is for the private gratification of household consumption and affects both household and consumer goods . It is included as “private consumption” in the usage calculation of the national accounts . This aggregate of the gross national product is defined as the price- valued, quantitative consumption of goods and services by private households in a period for the direct or indirect satisfaction of human needs and “personal consumption ( ) of private organizations without gainful employment”.

The per capita consumption is the statistical average of the consumption of a resident of consumable items such as food , energy or water . The per capita consumption in Germany in 2014 for mineral and medicinal water was 148.8 liters, beer 105.9 liters, vegetables 93.6 kg, meat 86.6 kg, sugar 31.9 kg, energy 162 GJ or water 122.0 liters per inhabitant. In the formula, the total sales of a consumable item is divided by the number of inhabitants :

This economic indicator enables a regional comparison within a state and an international comparison of states. In the case of per capita consumption, small children and old people are also included in the population, although they - for example with beer - are not or only partially considered as consumers.

Under government consumption refers to the "expenses of the state for administrative services that the public without special consideration will be made available. Administrative expenses include purchases of goods and services by the state (excluding purchases of capital goods for civil purposes), the income of those employed in the civil service, as well as imputed net rents for the buildings owned by the state and depreciation of these assets and movable property. In order to determine the state consumption, the value of the state services that are sold or charged for the fees are deducted from the expenses. "

Business administration

If goods ( raw materials , consumables and supplies ) and services are used for the company's production purposes in business administration, one also speaks of consumption. In addition, the term consumption is used not only for the use of assets ( assets side ), but also for the reduction of provisions on the liabilities side of the balance sheet in connection with the utilization of obligations. The reserve account is feeding increased, diminished by consumption or resolution. For example, the pension payments from the company pension plan are booked as consumption of the pension provisions . The addition, use and release of provisions ensures that future expenses are allocated as expenses to the financial year of the economic cause, so that there are no more effects on profit in the year of consumption.

In accounting , the private consumption of the entrepreneur for sole proprietorships or personally liable partners of partnerships is booked to private accounts as private withdrawals. The sequential consumption procedures are fictions in which order existing stocks are first consumed or sold .


The specific legal concept of the consumer after referred to § 13 BGB a natural person who is a legal transaction (particularly business closes of daily living) for purposes that predominantly neither its commercial nor its independent vocational activity may be attributed. Numerous consumer protection regulations are linked to the consumer term .

In tax law , the consumer's consumption is a tax object for consumption taxes (e.g. VAT , tobacco tax , coffee tax ), whereby the concept of consumption is not understood for tax purposes in the sense of physical consumption, but as the use of income by the private household for the purchase of goods and services to meet private needs.

Energy being

In the case of energy consumption ( electricity consumption , gas consumption , water consumption , fuel consumption ), the energy used to perform work is converted into light , heat , cold , movement , etc. and is no longer available in its original form. The conversion (of the energy) is part of the definition of the term consumption, which is why this process can also be referred to as consumption.


An estimate of how long or how far a good will be available is called its range . In a company, the range is a question of logistics , for raw materials ( range of raw materials ) it is often a geopolitical one . Intended for means of transport u. a. the fuel consumption the range , i.e. the distance that can still be covered with a certain amount of fuel.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georg Friedrich Meier, Metaphysik , 1748, § 263, p. 426
  2. ^ Johann Christoph Adelung, Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect , Volume 6, 1776, p. 238 .
  3. ^ Gabler-Verlag, Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon , Volume 6, 1984, Sp. 1443.
  4. BT-Drucksache V / 3550 of December 2, 1968, Annual Report 1968 of the Council of Experts for the Assessment of Overall Economic Development , p. 117.
  5. Statista The statistics portal, statistics on the subject of per capita consumption .
  6. BT-Drucksache V / 3550 of December 2, 1968, Annual Report 1968 of the Council of Experts for the Assessment of Overall Economic Development , p. 117.
  7. Rudolf Heno, annual financial statements according to commercial law, tax law and international standards , 2004, p. 366.
  8. Peter Walden, The sales tax as indirect consumption tax , 1988, p. 48.