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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain and give examples of positive and negative externalities
  • Identify equilibrium price and quantity
  • Evaluate how firms can contribute to market failure

From 1970 to 2012, the U.S. population increased by one-third and the size of the U.S. economy more than doubled. Since the 1970s, however, the United States, using a variety of anti-pollution policies, has made genuine progress against a number of pollutants. [link] lists the change in carbon dioxide emissions by users of energy (from residential to industrial) according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The table shows that emissions of certain key air pollutants declined substantially from 2007 to 2012; they dropped 730 million metric tons (MMT) a year—a 12% reduction. This seems to indicate that progress has been made in the United States in reducing overall carbon dioxide emissions, which cause greenhouse gases.

(Source: EIA Monthly Energy Review)
U.s. carbon dioxide (co 2 ) emissions from fossil fuels consumed 2007–2012, million metric tons (mmt) per year
Primary Fossil Fuels Purchased Electric Power Total Primary Fossil Fuels
End-use Sector Coal Petroleum Natural Gas
Residential (0) (14) (31) (134) (179)
Commercial (2) (2) (7) (126) (136)
Industrial (40) (62) 31 (118) (191)
Transportation 0 (228) 5 (1) (224)
Power (464) (36) (122) - -
Change 2007–2012 (508) (342) 121 (378) (730)

Despite the gradual reduction in emissions from fossil fuels, many important environmental issues remain. Along with the still high levels of air and water pollution, other issues include hazardous waste disposal, destruction of wetlands and other wildlife habitats, and the impact on human health from pollution.


Private markets , such as the cell phone industry, offer an efficient way to put buyers and sellers together and determine what goods are produced, how they are produced, and who gets them. The principle that voluntary exchange benefits both buyers and sellers is a fundamental building block of the economic way of thinking. But what happens when a voluntary exchange affects a third party who is neither the buyer nor the seller?

As an example, consider a concert producer who wants to build an outdoor arena that will host country music concerts a half-mile from your neighborhood. You will be able to hear these outdoor concerts while sitting on your back porch—or perhaps even in your dining room. In this case, the sellers and buyers of concert tickets may both be quite satisfied with their voluntary exchange, but you have no voice in their market transaction. The effect of a market exchange on a third party who is outside or “external” to the exchange is called an externality    . Because externalities that occur in market transactions affect other parties beyond those involved, they are sometimes called spillovers .

Externalities can be negative or positive. If you hate country music, then having it waft into your house every night would be a negative externality    . If you love country music, then what amounts to a series of free concerts would be a positive externality    .

Questions & Answers

what is choice?
Hilma Reply
Suppose a country with fixed quantities of resources is able to produce any of the following combinations of bread and ovens;
opoku Reply
willingness and ability to buy at a market price at time specified
Joel Reply
discuss the meaning of demand in economic
Usman Reply
the willingness and ability to buy a commodity
just try to elucidate
Aadil Reply
just try to elucidate something
would you explain
what is elasticity, perfectly elastic, inelastic
Rue Reply
When 01 the demand is elastic
when demand curve is horizental the curve is perfectly elastic ...when demand curve is vertical then it is perfectly inelastic
elasticity means that percentage change in quantity demanded due to percentage change in price
Refers to the level or degree of sensitivity quantity demanded has in my relationship to a change in price
introduction to elasticity of demand
Dalhatu Reply
what is price commonly called in the labour market
Explain demand curve
price in labour market is Marginal Physical Productivity...
what is the price of elasticity of demand
Mahesh Reply
it is the responsiveness of a certain good. and it is calculated as follows: PED=%change in quantity demanded /%change in price
what is per capita income
Kafwimbi Reply
what is GDP of an economy
Gross Domestic Product
What are the factors that drive exchange rates?
Why is scarcity the main problem of economics
Nicholas Reply
Because of unlimited needs and wants demanded by the household
what is GDP deflator?
Because of endless needs and wants required to achieve maximum satisfaction possible by consumers
how to calculate price elasticity demand?
Precious Reply
change in quantity over quantity divided by change in price over price
Percentage change in quantity demanded over the percentage change in price
if the local pizzeria raises the price of a medium pizza from Rd.60to 100 & quantity demanded falls from 700 pizzas a night to 100 pizzas at night , the price elasticity of demand for pizzas is:
Lakshmi Reply
1.2. Measurement of price Elasticity of demand
Lakshmi tell me how wrong am I coz I see you've got different answer from mine?
explain how price and output are determind by a discriminating monopolist
Hiraj Reply
price and output determined through interaction between demand curve and supply curve...
how do I view the graphs
Patricia Reply
how do I open the links

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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