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Second, workers who specialize in certain tasks often learn to produce more quickly and with higher quality. This pattern holds true for many workers, including assembly line laborers who build cars, stylists who cut hair, and doctors who perform heart surgery. In fact, specialized workers often know their jobs well enough to suggest innovative ways to do their work faster and better.

A similar pattern often operates within businesses. In many cases, a business that focuses on one or a few products (sometimes called its “ core competency ”) is more successful than firms that try to make a wide range of products.

Third, specialization allows businesses to take advantage of economies of scale    , which means that for many goods, as the level of production increases, the average cost of producing each individual unit declines. For example, if a factory produces only 100 cars per year, each car will be quite expensive to make on average. However, if a factory produces 50,000 cars each year, then it can set up an assembly line with huge machines and workers performing specialized tasks, and the average cost of production per car will be lower. The ultimate result of workers who can focus on their preferences and talents, learn to do their specialized jobs better, and work in larger organizations is that society as a whole can produce and consume far more than if each person tried to produce all of their own goods and services. The division and specialization of labor has been a force against the problem of scarcity.

Trade and markets

Specialization only makes sense, though, if workers can use the pay they receive for doing their jobs to purchase the other goods and services that they need. In short, specialization requires trade.

You do not have to know anything about electronics or sound systems to play music—you just buy an iPod or MP3 player, download the music and listen. You do not have to know anything about artificial fibers or the construction of sewing machines if you need a jacket—you just buy the jacket and wear it. You do not need to know anything about internal combustion engines to operate a car—you just get in and drive. Instead of trying to acquire all the knowledge and skills involved in producing all of the goods and services that you wish to consume, the market allows you to learn a specialized set of skills and then use the pay you receive to buy the goods and services you need or want. This is how our modern society has evolved into a strong economy.

Why study economics?

Now that we have gotten an overview on what economics studies, let’s quickly discuss why you are right to study it. Economics is not primarily a collection of facts to be memorized, though there are plenty of important concepts to be learned. Instead, economics is better thought of as a collection of questions to be answered or puzzles to be worked out. Most important, economics provides the tools to work out those puzzles. If you have yet to be been bitten by the economics “bug,” there are other reasons why you should study economics.

  • Virtually every major problem facing the world today, from global warming, to world poverty, to the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, has an economic dimension. If you are going to be part of solving those problems, you need to be able to understand them. Economics is crucial.
  • It is hard to overstate the importance of economics to good citizenship. You need to be able to vote intelligently on budgets, regulations, and laws in general. When the U.S. government came close to a standstill at the end of 2012 due to the “fiscal cliff,” what were the issues involved? Did you know?
  • A basic understanding of economics makes you a well-rounded thinker. When you read articles about economic issues, you will understand and be able to evaluate the writer’s argument. When you hear classmates, co-workers, or political candidates talking about economics, you will be able to distinguish between common sense and nonsense. You will find new ways of thinking about current events and about personal and business decisions, as well as current events and politics.

The study of economics does not dictate the answers, but it can illuminate the different choices.

Key concepts and summary

Economics seeks to solve the problem of scarcity, which is when human wants for goods and services exceed the available supply. A modern economy displays a division of labor, in which people earn income by specializing in what they produce and then use that income to purchase the products they need or want. The division of labor allows individuals and firms to specialize and to produce more for several reasons: a) It allows the agents to focus on areas of advantage due to natural factors and skill levels; b) It encourages the agents to learn and invent; c) It allows agents to take advantage of economies of scale. Division and specialization of labor only work when individuals can purchase what they do not produce in markets. Learning about economics helps you understand the major problems facing the world today, prepares you to be a good citizen, and helps you become a well-rounded thinker.

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. 2015. "The Employment Situation—February 2015." Accessed March 27, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf.

Williamson, Lisa. “US Labor Market in 2012.” Bureau of Labor Statistics . Accessed December 1, 2013. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/03/art1full.pdf.

Questions & Answers

can someone explain cardinal and ordinal utility for me please?
faith Reply
sir please explain industrial economist and its important
Priya
Please how can someone maximise profit in business?
Esther
how to calculate profit maximization
Daudi Reply
what is fiscal policy
Adewale Reply
it is the government policy in which uses expenditures and taxes to regurate the economy by applying either contractionary or expansionary FISCAL policy
Marcus
Hello. Please explain shortly
nourhan Reply
what happens when maximum price is placed above equilibrium price
Christian Reply
the demand curve falls
Ewerton
there will be excess supply
Emmanuel
explain the term : law of demand and it's function
Evacon Reply
law of demand state that the higher the price the lower the quantity demanded and vice versa
Moka
Está correto, sua função também é a de estabilizar o mercado do produto em questão, seu preço, sua produção, etc.
Ewerton
higher******
Umar
what are raw materials
Fatmah Reply
the basic material from which a product is made. "these could be used as raw material"
ADAMU
fatmah raw material, also known as a feedstock, oky is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials that are feedstock for future finished products. just to make outputs.
ADAMU
oh yeah I got it .. thank you for your help 😊
Fatmah
hello my dear friends
Au
hello
Fatmah
hello
Muhammad
hy
Sortema
Any notes on ppf.?
George
can anyone clarify features of internal efficiency with reference to education
Sortema
raw material can also be said to be organic materials that haven't gone through any form of processing.
faith
in an open economy, the GDP is measured as ?
jacobs Reply
what is Labour of supply.
Eshmel Reply
it is called supply of labour
Emmanuel
it is the total number of those the producer is expected to employ at a given time and at an existing wage rate
Emmanuel
it is a sum number of employees the manufacturer wish to employ in a period of time , and at a given wage rate
Evacon
if the price of yam increases what will happen to demand curve?
Lawal Reply
the demand curve will decrease
Fatmah
with table and diagrametic illustration
Usama Reply
ok
Mustafe
if the price elasticity of demand for a commodity is zero the demand curve is
Aryan Reply
the demand curve is inelastic
Emmanuel
this is because price bring about a lesser change in quantity demanded
Emmanuel
how are we going to draw scale of preference
Achor Reply
how do we identify choice
Achor
how do we identify opportunity cost
Achor
opportunity cost is the forgone alternative. in oder words, it is the sacrificed goods or service for another. thus, the item you did not buy with the resources you have thereby buying another one is called opportunity cost. thanks
John
Opportunity cost considers only the next best alternative to an action, not the entire set of alternatives, and takes into account all of the differences between the two choices.
ADAMU
IAC curve is geueraly
Subham Reply
what are the benefits or tourism?
Maake Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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