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

  • Show the relationship between production costs and comparative advantage
  • Identify situations of mutually beneficial trade
  • Identify trade benefits by considering opportunity costs

What happens to the possibilities for trade if one country has an absolute advantage in everything? This is typical for high-income countries that often have well-educated workers, technologically advanced equipment, and the most up-to-date production processes. These high-income countries can produce all products with fewer resources than a low-income country. If the high-income country is more productive across the board, will there still be gains from trade? Good students of Ricardo understand that trade is about mutually beneficial exchange. Even when one country has an absolute advantage in all products, trade can still benefit both sides. This is because gains from trade come from specializing in one’s comparative advantage.

Production possibilities and comparative advantage

Consider the example of trade between the United States and Mexico described in [link] . In this example, it takes four U.S. workers to produce 1,000 pairs of shoes, but it takes five Mexican workers to do so. It takes one U.S. worker to produce 1,000 refrigerators, but it takes four Mexican workers to do so. The United States has an absolute advantage in productivity with regard to both shoes and refrigerators; that is, it takes fewer workers in the United States than in Mexico to produce both a given number of shoes and a given number of refrigerators.

Resources needed to produce shoes and refrigerators
Country Number of Workers needed to produce 1,000 units — Shoes Number of Workers needed to produce 1,000 units — Refrigerators
United States 4 workers 1 worker
Mexico 5 workers 4 workers

Absolute advantage simply compares the productivity of a worker between countries. It answers the question, “How many inputs do I need to produce shoes in Mexico?” Comparative advantage asks this same question slightly differently. Instead of comparing how many workers it takes to produce a good, it asks, “How much am I giving up to produce this good in this country?” Another way of looking at this is that comparative advantage identifies the good for which the producer’s absolute advantage is relatively larger, or where the producer’s absolute productivity disadvantage is relatively smaller. The United States can produce 1,000 shoes with four-fifths as many workers as Mexico (four versus five), but it can produce 1,000 refrigerators with only one-quarter as many workers (one versus four). So, the comparative advantage of the United States, where its absolute productivity advantage is relatively greatest, lies with refrigerators, and Mexico’s comparative advantage, where its absolute productivity disadvantage is least, is in the production of shoes.

Mutually beneficial trade with comparative advantage

When nations increase production in their area of comparative advantage and trade with each other, both countries can benefit. Again, the production possibility frontier is a useful tool to visualize this benefit.

Questions & Answers

Importance of economic
Achike Reply
Helps in decision making
MP
I need like 5 importance
Achike
hi
Physcal
Hey
Muhammad
hellow dear.
juwel
hello
Al-ameen
Hello
MP
it helps an individual in rational decision making process
Assan
Fine and u
Buzabaryaho
how does it make individual in rational dicision making decisions
Annor
if an individual is faced with unlimited wants.
Assan
it also helps an individual in arranging their wants in order of their importance.
Assan
ohk
Annor
ok
Al-ameen
what is tourism
forgive Reply
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business
Yusuf
It is the commercial organization and operation of holidays and visits to places of interest.
Nureni
who is a price taker?
sam Reply
A price taker is a person or a company who have no control to dictate a prices of a goods or services
Unique
Someone who sets price
Nureni
In the trading world, a price taker is a trader who does not affect the price of the stock if he or she buys or sells shares.
Nureni
in a common and suitable sense state the law of diminishing returns
Unique Reply
The higher the satisfaction derived from a particular commodity,the lower the demand for it but that law doesn't match in some instances.
Nureni
state the features of an imperfect competitive market
Naomi
@NURENI instance like wat
Unique
imperfect competitive market involves large number of sellers and buyers price makers selling cost product differentiation free entry and exit of a firms
Unique
is economics a science
Alex Reply
yes. a social science.
Carlos
Yes of cause It uses scientific principles in its research. That is to say, analyzing data, making experiment as well as making deductions and drawing conclusions
Aziz
U can understand the scientific nature of economics by learning about the methods used by Abhijit Banerjee(indian) ,the nobel prize laureate 2019.
Harshita
it is considered as a social science
idk
Hence, economics is a science, a social science many can call it, or more appropriately, a young science
Taha
it can be called social science because of behaviour ,which is unpredictable.There r many theroies in economics which make economics a social science But some economic theories makes it science
Harshita
human behaviour*
Harshita
remember science derives from the root words "to know". With that being said most fields of study can be considered as a science or soft science, for they possess key knowledge to attaining understanding of our world.
Alexander
economics is a science cos it deals with human wants, desire or neads in order to satisfy them
Unique
according comparision of political science economic is science.
Hassan
what's the question?
Nureni Reply
Discuss economics system
Henry Reply
discuss institutional system
Henry
Give 3 at most advantages and disadvantages of economics system and institutional syatem
Henry
Give the features characteristics of market or free enterprise
Henry
The structure of an economy is largely determined by the economic system which is a function of the economic ideology of the nation
Nureni
The economic system is grouped into 5 groups: 1: Pure market 2: Developed market 3: Centrally planned or Socialist 4: Mixed market and 5: Market Socialist Economic systems
Nureni
what is inflation
Prince Reply
hello everyone , I'm New here, third degree price discrimination?
Saeed Reply
2nd degree price discrimination?
Saeed
hi
Kini
hi
Mitchel
Hi
MP
price paid by consumers after the sales tax is called?
Pinias Reply
why government impose price floor on certain products?
Pinias
how can black market be occurred when price ceiling is introduced?
Pinias
How can inflation affect goods and services?
Ph
When prices rise for energy, food, commodities, and other goods and services, the entire economy is affected
Joan
If inflation becomes too high the economy can suffer conversely, if inflation is controlled and at reasonable levels, the economy may prosper. With controlled, lower inflation, employment increases.
Joan
Is it necessary to make decision when it fails you
Evelin Reply
Pls when what fails u
MP
I think so
Kini
well i might naught know what you on about but i gotta tell you, it is necessary
Troy
yep
Ibe
Kk
MP
yep
Ibe
how can the demand side approach solve unemployment
Tshepiso Reply
demand solves unemployment when it is addressed with supply you can't just expect demand to work alone without supply the two are interconnected
Nureni
demand side approach to solve unemployment
Tshepiso Reply
no get ur questions
Ibe
differentiate between choice and scale of preference
ALFRED Reply
choice are the various wants of every individual whiles scale of preference is the list of unsatisfied wants arranged in order of important priority
Kini
choice refers to the act of selecting from alternatives or it refers to the act of choosing one thing instead of the other but Scale of preference refers to the listing of wants in order of important by providing the pressing need on top and the less pressing need at the bottom
Ebenezer
four cardinal types of demand
Henry Reply
what are the types of demand
Henry
they are the derived,complementary,substitute and supplementary demands
Kini
What is equilibrium
Khan
hi
Ayesha
hello
Kini
equilibrium is the state of balance where there is no tendency for a change to occur.
Kini
Derived, competitive, complementary and composite demands
Aziz
Hi
MP
why is economics said to be a dismal science?
Kini
hi friends
Ibe
hello
Owusu
fyn
Ibe
fyn what is meaning of monopoly
Ibe
monopoly is when a particular good is produced without competing with any other good.
Ebenezer
good evening
Tweneboah
draw the market demand curve from the individual demand curve?
Shilpa
what is the generally accepted defination of economics and by who
IDY 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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