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We can see a general lesson here. If firms were required to pay the social costs of pollution, they would create less pollution but produce less of the product and charge a higher price. In the next module, we will explore how governments require firms to take the social costs of pollution into account.

Key concepts and summary

Economic production can cause environmental damage. This tradeoff arises for all countries, whether high-income or low-income, and whether their economies are market-oriented or command-oriented.

An externality occurs when an exchange between a buyer and seller has an impact on a third party who is not part of the exchange. An externality, which is sometimes also called a spillover, can have a negative or a positive impact on the third party. If those parties imposing a negative externality on others had to take the broader social cost of their behavior into account, they would have an incentive to reduce the production of whatever is causing the negative externality. In the case of a positive externality, the third party is obtaining benefits from the exchange between a buyer and a seller, but they are not paying for these benefits. If this is the case, then markets would tend to under produce output because suppliers are not aware of the additional demand from others. If the parties that are generating benefits to others would be somehow compensated for these external benefits, they would have an incentive to increase production of whatever is causing the positive externality.


Show the market for cigarettes in equilibrium, assuming that there are no laws banning smoking in public. Label the equilibrium private market price and quantity as Pm and Qm. Add whatever is needed to the model to show the impact of the negative externality from second-hand smoking. (Hint: In this case it is the consumers, not the sellers, who are creating the negative externality.) Label the social optimal output and price as Pe and Qe. On the graph, shade in the deadweight loss at the market output.

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Refer to [link] . The externality created by the production of refrigerators was $100. However, once both the private and additional external costs were taken into consideration, the market price increased by only $50. If the external costs were $100 why did the price only increase by $50 when all costs were taken into account?

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[link] , shows the supply and demand conditions for a firm that will play trumpets on the streets when requested. Qs 1 is the quantity supplied without social costs. Qs 2 is the quantity supplied with social costs. What is the negative externality in this situation? Identify the equilibrium price and quantity when only private costs are taken into account, and then when social costs are taken into account. How does taking the externality into account affect the equilibrium price and quantity?

P Qd Qs 1 Qs 2
$20 0 10 8
$18 1 9 7
$15 2.5 7.5 5.5
$12 4 6 4
$10 5 5 3
$5 7.5 2.5 0.5
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Johnson, Oscar William. “Back on Track: Earth Day Success Story; The Chattanooga Choo-Choo No Longer Spews Foul Air.” Sports Illustrated . April 30, 1990. http://www.si.com/vault/1990/04/30/121923/back-on-track-earth-day-success-story-the-chattanooga-choo-choo-no-longer-spews-foul-air.

U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Total Energy: Monthly Energy Review.” U.S. Department of Energy . Accessed December 19, 2013. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/.

Questions & Answers

what is labor productivity
Lizzy Reply
if the demand function is q=25-4p+p² 1.find elasticity of demand at the point p=5?
Puja Reply
what are some of the difference between monopoly and perfect competition market
Obeng Reply
n a perfectly competitive market, price equals marginal cost and firms earn an economic profit of zero. In a monopoly, the price is set above marginal cost and the firm earns a positive economic profit. Perfect competition produces an equilibrium in which the price and quantity of a good is economic
what are some characteristics of monopoly market
Obeng Reply
explicit cost is seen as a total experiences in the business or the salary (wages) that a firm pay to employee.
Idagu Reply
what is price elasticity
it is the degree of responsiveness to a percentage change in the price of the commodity
economics is known to be the field
John Reply
what is monopoly
Peter Reply
what is taxation
why do monopoly make excess profit in both long run and short run
Adeola Reply
because monopoly have no competitor on the market and they are price makers,therefore,they can easily increase the princes and produce small quantity of goods but still consumers will still buy....
how to identify a perfect market graph
Adeola Reply
what is the investment
investment is a money u used to the business
investment is the purchase of good that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth.
investment is the good that are not consumed
What is supply
 Supply represents how much the market can offer.
it is the quantity of commodity producers produces at the market
what is the effect of scarce resources on producers
Phindu Reply
explain how government taxes and government producer subsidies affect supply
what is economic
Charles Reply
what are the type of economic
macroeconomics,microeconomics,positive economics and negative economics
what are the factors of production
process of production
Basically factors of production are four (4) namely: 1. Entrepreneur 2. Capital 3. Labour and; 4. Land but there has been a new argument to include an addition one to the the numbers to 5 which is "Technology"
what is land as a factor of production
what is Economic
economics is how individuals bussiness and governments make the best decisions to get what they want and how these choices interact in the market
Economics as a social science, which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means, which have alternative uses.
Economics is a science which study human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means
Economics is a social sciences which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce mean, which have alternative uses.....
how will a country's population be equal to it's labour force
Hope Reply
what is the meaning of ppf
Obeng Reply
Production Possibility Frontier
What is Economic
Governor Reply
Economics is the social science that deals with the unlimited human wants in the face of scarce (limited in supply) resources.
what is market
Gift Reply
marker is the interaction of buying and selling
market refers to the interaction of the processes of buying and selling of commodities between the buyer and the seller.
market is a place where two parties gather to facilitate exchange of goods and services.
what are some good sources of information to find trends in various Industries
how do on know that marketing is going on
what is consumption
Using revenue
What is stock market
what is inadequate supply of labour
what is elasticity demand
when the number of workers is not equal to the height of job on ground d work load may b too much thereby causing delay on the work
market is the process of moving in and out of items that are used in future
what is profit maximizing level of out put for above hypothetical firm TC = Q3 - 21Q2 + 600 + 1800 P = 600 MC = 3Q2 - 42Q + 600
Sosna 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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