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In some cases, realizing the opportunity cost can alter behavior. Imagine, for example, that you spend $8 on lunch every day at work. You may know perfectly well that bringing a lunch from home would cost only $3 a day, so the opportunity cost of buying lunch at the restaurant is $5 each day (that is, the $8 buying lunch costs minus the $3 your lunch from home would cost). $5 each day does not seem to be that much. However, if you project what that adds up to in a year—250 days a year × $5 per day equals $1,250, the cost, perhaps, of a decent vacation. If the opportunity cost is described as “a nice vacation” instead of “$5 a day,” you might make different choices.

Marginal decision-making and diminishing marginal utility

The budget constraint framework helps to emphasize that most choices in the real world are not about getting all of one thing or all of another; that is, they are not about choosing either the point at one end of the budget constraint or else the point all the way at the other end. Instead, most choices involve marginal analysis    , which means comparing the benefits and costs of choosing a little more or a little less of a good.

People desire goods and services for the satisfaction or utility    those goods and services provide. Utility, as we will see in the chapter on Consumer Choices , is subjective but that does not make it less real. Economists typically assume that the more of some good one consumes (for example, slices of pizza), the more utility one obtains. At the same time, the utility a person receives from consuming the first unit of a good is typically more than the utility received from consuming the fifth or the tenth unit of that same good. When Alphonso chooses between burgers and bus tickets, for example, the first few bus rides that he chooses might provide him with a great deal of utility—perhaps they help him get to a job interview or a doctor’s appointment. But later bus rides might provide much less utility—they may only serve to kill time on a rainy day. Similarly, the first burger that Alphonso chooses to buy may be on a day when he missed breakfast and is ravenously hungry. However, if Alphonso has a burger every single day, the last few burgers may taste pretty boring. The general pattern that consumption of the first few units of any good tends to bring a higher level of utility to a person than consumption of later units is a common pattern. Economists refer to this pattern as the law of diminishing marginal utility    , which means that as a person receives more of a good, the additional (or marginal) utility from each additional unit of the good declines. In other words, the first slice of pizza brings more satisfaction than the sixth.

The law of diminishing marginal utility explains why people and societies rarely make all-or-nothing choices. You would not say, “My favorite food is ice cream, so I will eat nothing but ice cream from now on.” Instead, even if you get a very high level of utility from your favorite food, if you ate it exclusively, the additional or marginal utility from those last few servings would not be very high. Similarly, most workers do not say: “I enjoy leisure, so I’ll never work.” Instead, workers recognize that even though some leisure is very nice, a combination of all leisure and no income is not so attractive. The budget constraint framework suggests that when people make choices in a world of scarcity, they will use marginal analysis and think about whether they would prefer a little more or a little less.

Questions & Answers

using the graph illustrate all the types of elascity
Umar Reply
ha
Nathaniel
.
Anjali
distinguish between increase in demand curve and extenaion in demamd curve
Farhan Reply
what are the shapes of an indifference curve?
Ovensi Reply
division of labour is simply the breaking of job functions so that each individual is engage to one set or the other for easy delivery
EMMANUEL Reply
What is division of labor
peter Reply
it is also simply the breaking down of work into various part so that each individual is entitle to one for easy delivery
EMMANUEL
it is the simplifying of tasks into smaller easily workable divisions where each person specialises on what they understand better
cabs
ok
EMMANUEL
thanks for your briefing and time
EMMANUEL
what are the sources of monopoly power?
Winnerman Reply
the first source, are informations
amine
political power and influence in monetary institutions
Shahul
what is imperfect competition ?
SHAH Reply
the situation in which elements of monopoly ( R&D, EOS and stability of prices etc.) allow individual producers or consumers to exercise some control over market prices
Ghulam
how to find shut down
Sowmya Reply
where p is less than avc
Koushik
s
Shahul
which is the best public finance economics text book?
Shahul
hello
shafiullah
hello
Shahul
Yes hi
Pov
....
SHAH
what are the alternatives various of economic system
olaleye Reply
what is microeconomics
Ayedun
Micro-economics refers to the branch of economics which deals with smaller unit or element of the economy.
Amadu
or Is the study of individual economic unit in a economy..
Neriel
micro economis is the studay of how Households and firms make decision and they interecr it.
mahad
what is financial intermediaries?
Imran Reply
financial intermediaries are those who are link between borrowers and lenders for.eg bank... Bank is a financial intermediary
Ajit
tnx a lot of u
Imran
most welcome
Ajit
why do you here ? why do you want to learn economics
Ajit
والله العظيم انا ماعاوز اتعلمها
انا باخدها غصب عني في الكليه حضرتك
لس كدااا
I am student of ecnomics ,
Imran
Imran
Abdi
yes Abdi temam
Imran
am good too see you
Abdi
tnx why not
Imran
b/c im student
Abdi
great, now I am sleeping see u nex time ok
Imran
ok
Abdi
OK
Ajit
what is the law of dimis
Toyin Reply
what is the feature of public ownership of production factors
Toyin
what is the demand for commodity that posses identical utilities called
Toyin
law of diminishing utility...as the quantity consumed of a commodity increases,the utility derived from each successive unit goes on decreasing... condition___ consumption of other commodities remaining the same.
Malik
sorry it's...Law of diminishing marginal utility
Malik
demand for commodities that posses identical utilities? The commodities having identical utilities are perfect substitutes...and the demand for such type of commodities is called "Competitive Demand".
Malik
thanks
Toyin
Why many people can't differentiate Economists and financial analysts
Hatimu
what is the function of the central bank in an economic?
Toyin
the central bank may lend some money to banks if necessary
konglan
what economics
Toyin Reply
Is this a question?
Tala
is the study of how societies allocate and manage their scare resources
Neriel
What is populatiin
Azer Reply
Population is a number of people living in a particular area within a particular time
Rabby
Population is the number of people living in a particular geographical area within a particular time
Rabby
how does this chat work
Dalaya
ya the ideas are good thanks friends
South
so what's the next question?
South
what is demand schedule
Toyin Reply
is a tabular representation of the quantity demanded of a particular product at a particular price over a given period of time
Loveth
thanks
Toyin
you are welcome
Loveth
ok
Hassan
What is Monetary Mass
Acha 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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