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Normative and positive statements

What is the difference between normative and positive statements in the context of economics or philosophy? Normative statements are based on opinions or ethics—what someone believes should be. Positive statements, on the other hand, are testable, even if they may not necessarily be true.

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  • male robot hal style avatar for user KEVIN
    Is there another type of statement that would fit in between "normative" and "positive"? In other words, a type of statement that shows bias, but can still be tested?
    (20 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Helios
      I think these groups give much justice to the context of the statement, if I were to say ''Taxes are bad for the economy'', it may seem like a normative statement but it can be tested as in comparing growth of non-taxed to taxed countries. Or a comparison of the past economy to the growing economy after taxes were installed (don't aggregate too much on this).
      Hope I could clarify, if you give an example I would be better help
      (24 votes)
  • leafers seedling style avatar for user Henrique M. Lozano
    Could Positive Statements be differentiated by Normative ones by trying to find a cause and consequence for the statement? For example: "Raising taxes for the poor is wrong" is a highly Normative, but "Raising taxes for the poor is wrong because it disrupts social development" can be proven wrong by tracing experiments where the actions does not lead to the stated consequence—making it a Positive.
    (5 votes)
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    • starky tree style avatar for user melanie
      The statement "raising taxes is wrong " is still normative because it is still an opinion. The second part might be positive depending on what is meant by "disrupting social development". For example, if there is some measure of that, and you can show a cause and effect relationship, then you have a clearer argument that something is positive.
      (17 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user jebmccready01
    I would say that the statement; government should increase taxes on the rich to help the poor, is a positive statement because we can observe and learn from other economic systems
    (socialism) how that worked for them.
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user bk21758
    An increase in the federal minimum wage will provide a living wage for the working poor. Is this a normative or positive statement?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Ashraya Kochara
    Does that mean that normative statements can be expressed as positive statements and vice-versa? Wouldn't that mean it all just depends on how the opinion is put into words?
    (4 votes)
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    • ohnoes default style avatar for user Noah L.
      Normative statements are based on values of judgement, but positive statements are based on fact.

      For example:
      "U.S GDP shrank 9.2% in the second quarter of 2020"
      and
      "It is a terrible thing that the U.S GDP shrank 9.2% in the second quarter of 2020"

      I guess you are right that normative statements can be expressed as positive statements, so as that the opinion is put into words that allow it to be testable. Positive statements can be tested. They are not always right, they can be wrong.
      Normative statements cannot be tested because we cannot prove that the statement is correct or incorrect.
      (3 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Ben McCuskey
    Could a statement exhibit both an opinion and something that could be tested? For example, raising taxes is bad because it will slow the economy. Or, raising taxes is good because it will provide money to pay for programs that will pay for infrastructure improvements?
    (3 votes)
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  • hopper cool style avatar for user Siddhant
    In the video, Sal says about running simulations (as an example) for testing some of the positive statements. Can you tell me more about it, like what type of simulations and how can they be used to model complex economic systems?

    Thank you :)
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Shaikh Jawad Bin Islam
    So normative statements are subjective statements and positive statements are objective statements? If that really is the case, than why bother giving them different names and not sticking with the ones that are already being used and less "fancy"?
    (2 votes)
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  • winston baby style avatar for user yoon
    so basically, a normative is like an opinion, and positive means that it can be test?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user jahami underwood
    how does the positive of statements help contribute toward life
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] What we're going to do in this video is discuss the difference between normative statements and positive statements, and you'll see these words used usually in an economic context, sometimes a philosophical one. A normative statement is one that really is a matter of opinion, maybe a matter of ethics, something that someone thinks is how the world should be. While a positive statement is something that, it doesn't necessarily have to be true but it's something that can be tested. So what we're going to do in this video is look at a bunch of statements around economics and think about whether they would be classified as normative statements, things that are opinions, that are a matter of ethics or morals, or whether they are positive statements, things that can be tested. So let's look at our first statement. This says, "Paying people who aren't working, "even though they could work, is wrong and unfair." So regardless of whether or not you agree with this statement, is it a normative statement or a positive statement? Well the fact that someone's saying it's wrong and it's unfair, this is pretty clearly a matter of opinion so this would be a normative statement. You can't test whether this is wrong or unfair, you would just have to believe that it is wrong and unfair. Now let's look at another statement. Programs like welfare reduce the incentive for people to work. Is this a normative statement or a positive statement? Well it might feel a little normative, it might feel like this is an opinion, but it actually can be tested. You could institute some welfare program on some small scale and compare it to a comparable place where there isn't a welfare program and see what it does for incentives to work, you survey people, you see how many people work in one situation or another. It might be a false statement, it might be a true statement, but either way, it actually can be tested, so this would be a positive statement so I'll put it in this category right over here, this is a positive, positive statement. Alright, let's look at another one. This say, "Raising taxes on the wealthy to pay "for government programs grows the economy." Is that a normative statement or a positive statement? Well once again, this can be tested. It might be true, it might be false, maybe your test is even inconclusive, but it can be tested, you could try to run a simulation, you could look at case studies of countries that did do this and see what happens to their economy versus ones that didn't do it. And so this is, even though it looks like something that someone who favors raising taxes on the wealthy maybe out of fairness arguments, something that they would say, this statement itself is not normative, the statement can be tested, so this is a positive statement. A good giveaway for normative statement, if it said something like it is fair to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for government programs, that would have been a normative statement or we should do this, that would have been a normative statement but here, this is something that's testable. Now the next statement, "Raising taxes on the wealthy "slows economic growth." Is that a normative statement or a positive statement? Well, once again, this might feel like someone who is against raising taxes, who think it's unfair to raise taxes on the wealthy, something that they would say but the statement itself can actually be tested. So this is also a positive statement, even though in some ways it's the opposite statement as the one that we just did. Because once again, we could look at countries that did this and countries that didn't do this, we could run a computer simulation to try to understand whether this statement is true. Let's do one last statement. This says, "The government should raise taxes "on the wealthy to pay for helping the poor." Is this normative or positive? Well in this situation, the word should is a pretty big giveaway, should, or it's fair or unfair, this is someone's opinion, it's not something that's testable, you can't test whether this statement is right or wrong, it's based on, do you believe ethically, morally, that this is true? And so this is a normative statement, so I'll put it in the normative column. So big picture, these words normative and positive, these are fancy words but all they mean is normative is a matter of morals or opinion and can't really be tested while a positive statement, whether they're right or wrong or whether you agree or disagree with them, these are things that in theory could be tested.