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Factors that influence individual economic choice


Main article: History of microeconomics

Economists commonly consider themselves microeconomists or macroeconomists. The difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics was introduced in 1933 by the Norwegian economist Ragnar Frisch, the co-recipient of the first Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1969.

Microeconomic theory

Consumer demand theory

Main article: Consumer choice

Consumer demand theory relates preferences for the consumption of both goods and services to the consumption expenditures; ultimately, this relationship between preferences and consumption expenditures is used to relate preferences to consumer demand curves . The link between personal preferences, consumption and the demand curve is one of the most closely studied relations in economics. It is a way of analyzing how consumers may achieve

equilibrium between preferences and expenditures by maximizing utility subject to consumer budget constraints.

Production theory

Main article: Production theory

Production theory is the study of production, or the economic process of converting inputs into outputs. Production uses resources to create a good or service that is suitable for use, gift giving in a gift economy , or exchange in a market economy. This can include manufacturing , storing, shipping, and packaging. Some economists define production broadly as all economic activity other than consumption . They see every commercial activity other than the final purchase as some form of production.

Cost-of-production theory of value

Main article: Cost-of-production theory of value

The cost-of-production theory of value states that the price of an object or condition is determined by the sum of the cost of the resources that went into making it. The cost can comprise any of the factors of production (including labor, capital , or land ) and taxation.

Technology can be viewed either as a form of fixed capital (e.g. an industrial plant) or circulating capital (e.g. intermediate goods ).

In the mathematical model for the cost of production, the short-run total cost is equal to fixed cost plus total variable cost . The fixed cost refers to the cost that is incurred regardless of how much the firm produces. The variable cost is a function of the quantity of an object being produced. The cost function can be used to characterize production through the duality theory in economics, developed mainly by Ronald Shephard (1953, 1970) and other scholars (Sickles & Zelenyuk, 2019, ch.2).


Opportunity cost

Main article: Opportunity cost

Opportunity cost is closely related to the idea of time constraints. One can do only one thing at a time, which means that, inevitably, one is always giving up other things. The opportunity cost of any activity is the value of the next-best alternative thing one may have done instead. Opportunity cost depends only on the value of the next-best alternative. It doesn't matter whether one has five alternatives or 5,000.

Opportunity costs can tell when not to do something as well as when to do something. For example, one may like waffles, but like chocolate even more. If someone offers only waffles, one would take it. But if offered waffles or chocolate, one would take the chocolate. The opportunity cost of eating waffles is sacrificing the chance to eat chocolate. Because the cost of not eating the chocolate is higher than the benefits of eating the waffles, it makes no sense to choose waffles. Of course, if one chooses chocolate, they are still faced with the opportunity cost of giving up having waffles. But one is willing to do that because the waffle's opportunity cost is lower than the benefits of the chocolate. Opportunity costs are unavoidable constraints on behaviour because one has to decide what's best and give up the next-best alternative.

Microeconomic models

Supply and demand

Main article: Supply and demand

Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a perfectly competitive market . It concludes that in a perfectly competitive market with no externalities , per unit taxes, or price controls , the unit price for a particular good is the price at which the quantity demanded by consumers equals the quantity supplied by producers. This price results in a stable economic equilibrium.



The supply and demand model describes how prices vary as a result of a balance between product availability and demand. The graph depicts an increase (that is, right-shift) in demand from D1 to D2 along with the consequent increase in price and quantity required to reach a new equilibrium point on the supply curve (S).

Prices and quantities have been described as the most directly observable attributes of goods produced and exchanged in a market economy .[6] The theory of supply and demand is an organizing principle for explaining how prices coordinate the amounts produced and consumed. In microeconomics, it applies to price and output determination for a market with perfect competition , which includes the condition of no buyers or sellers large enough to have price-setting power .

For a given market of a commodity, demand is the relation of the quantity that all buyers would be prepared to purchase at each unit price of the good. Demand is often represented by a table or a graph showing price and quantity demanded (as in the figure). Demand theory describes individual consumers as rationally choosing the most preferred quantity of each good, given income, prices, tastes, etc. A term for this is "constrained utility maximization" (with income and wealth as the constraints on demand). Here, utility refers to the hypothesized relation of each individual consumer for ranking different commodity bundles as more or less preferred.

The law of demand states that, in general, price and quantity demanded in a given market are inversely related. That is, the higher the price of a product, the less of it people would be prepared to buy (other things unchanged ). As the price of a commodity falls, consumers move toward it from relatively more expensive goods (the substitution effect). In addition, purchasing power from the price decline increases ability to buy (the income effect). Other factors can change demand; for example an increase in income will shift the demand curve for a normal good outward relative to the origin, as in the figure. All determinants are predominantly taken as constant factors of demand and supply.

Supply is the relation between the price of a good and the quantity available for sale at that price. It may be represented as a table or graph relating price and quantity supplied. Producers, for example business firms, are hypothesized to be profit maximizers , meaning that they attempt to produce and supply the amount of goods that will bring them the highest profit. Supply is typically represented as a function relating price and quantity, if other factors are unchanged.

That is, the higher the price at which the good can be sold, the more of it producers will supply, as in the figure. The higher price makes it profitable to increase production. Just as on the demand side, the position of the supply can shift, say from a change in the price of a productive input or a technical improvement. The "Law of Supply" states that, in general, a rise in price leads to an expansion in supply and a fall in price leads to a contraction in supply. Here as well, the determinants of supply, such as price of substitutes, cost of production, technology applied and various factors inputs of production are all taken to be constant for a specific time period of evaluation of supply.

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Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences Norwegian Ragnar Frisch

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