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Choices and tradeoffs

This is a photograph of students at their high school graduation ceremony
In general, the higher the degree, the higher the salary. So why aren’t more people pursuing higher degrees? The short answer: choices and tradeoffs. (Credit: modification of work by “Jim, the Photographer”/Flickr Creative Commons)

Choices ... to what degree?

In 2015, the median income for workers who hold master's degrees varies from males to females. The average of the two is $2,951 weekly. Multiply this average by 52 weeks, and you get an average salary of $153,452. Compare that to the median weekly earnings for a full-time worker over 25 with no higher than a bachelor’s degree: $1,224 weekly and $63,648 a year. What about those with no higher than a high school diploma in 2015? They earn just $664 weekly and $34,528 over 12 months. In other words, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning a bachelor’s degree boosted salaries 54% over what you would have earned if you had stopped your education after high school. A master’s degree yields a salary almost double that of a high school diploma.

Given these statistics, we might expect a lot of people to choose to go to college and at least earn a bachelor’s degree. Assuming that people want to improve their material well-being, it seems like they would make those choices that give them the greatest opportunity to consume goods and services. As it turns out, the analysis is not nearly as simple as this. In fact, in 2014, the BLS reported that while almost 88% of the population in the United States had a high school diploma, only 33.6% of 25–65 year olds had bachelor’s degrees, and only 7.4% of 25–65 year olds in 2014 had earned a master’s.

This brings us to the subject of this chapter: why people make the choices they make and how economists go about explaining those choices.

Introduction to choice in a world of scarcity

In this chapter, you will learn about:

  • How Individuals Make Choices Based on Their Budget Constraint
  • The Production Possibilities Frontier and Social Choices
  • Confronting Objections to the Economic Approach

You will learn quickly when you examine the relationship between economics and scarcity that choices involve tradeoffs. Every choice has a cost.

In 1968, the Rolling Stones recorded “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Economists chuckled, because they had been singing a similar tune for decades. English economist Lionel Robbins (1898–1984), in his Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science in 1932, described not always getting what you want in this way:

The time at our disposal is limited. There are only twenty-four hours in the day. We have to choose between the different uses to which they may be put. ... Everywhere we turn, if we choose one thing we must relinquish others which, in different circumstances, we would wish not to have relinquished. Scarcity of means to satisfy given ends is an almost ubiquitous condition of human nature.

Because people live in a world of scarcity, they cannot have all the time, money, possessions, and experiences they wish. Neither can society.

This chapter will continue our discussion of scarcity and the economic way of thinking by first introducing three critical concepts: opportunity cost, marginal decision making, and diminishing returns. Later, it will consider whether the economic way of thinking accurately describes either how choices are made or how they should be made.

Questions & Answers

an increase in demand (while supply remains constant) what will happen to deh graph?
Thabiso Reply
what is going to happen to the graph if there is an increase in demand, While supply remains constant .
What will happen to the graph if there is an increase in demand While supply remains constant?
price will increase high than automatically demand will decrease
equilibrium ?
what is demand
Sarkwah Reply
demand is the willingness to buy a commodity backed by the ability to pay.
demand is mere desire on commodity with ability to back up with purchasing power
Equilibrium is when there's an equality between quantity demanded and quantity supplied
Victory Reply
Again the consumer will be in equilibrium if the price of the commodity is equal to Marginal utility of that product
wat is the law of supply
Agnes Reply
It's what* -The law of supply states that price and supply is relative. As all factors are equal, if price increases then quantity of supply there for increases.
the law of suppy state that when prise is high, more commodity with be supply and when p is low less of the same commodity will be supply.
It states that, "other things being equal, move supplied at a higher price than at a lower price ".
it's state that the increased in prices will lead to decreased in supply
what is the theory of supply and the determinants of demand
And please what is change in quantity supplied?
guys why are you so quiet
A woman has a television set which cost her $800 two years ago. A new set would cost her $1000 and she could sell her television set for $450. What is the opportunity Cost of keeping the old TV?
Murewah Reply
principle of effective demand?
Abubakar Reply
the is the situation in which the need of individuals exceed the available resource. increase in population rate and wrong decision making
esther Reply
what is the different between wants and demand?
wants are what people desire to have but they can live without them and demand is a thing that is most wanted
what are the demand pull inflation
the higher the aggregate level of activity, the larger the proportion of areas and industries which experience excess demand for goods and labour of various sorts , and the more powerful is demand-inflationary pressure . Demand inflation is contrasted with cost inflation , in which price and wage
increases are transmitted from one sector to another. These should be regarded as different aspects of an overal inflation starts , cost inflation explains why inflation once begun is so difficult to stop.
what is the important difference between positive and normative economics
positive economics is the study of how an economy works in practice, as opposed to the theoretical study of how it should run in theory and normative economics is the party of economics that is concerned with how the economy ought to be run.
positive economic deal with fact and also talks about how the economy actually is like while normative economic deal with value judgement and talks about how the economy ought to be like
What is the difference between opportunity cost and choice
opportunity cost are also known as forgun alternative why choice is to select one among alternative
importance of economic
Zakaria Reply
satisfaction of human wants
economics is about to economise . discuss
Angel Reply
Underlines the efficiency aspect. Economise towards what: Economise factors to reach equal distribution of Material wealth or Just to operate optimally to Service demand, i. e. Run markets efficiently?
join the conversation
abba Reply
Hi I'm Ashnly Parker.
what is terms of trade
Ibrahim Reply
different btn import and export
No question... This is nice
Gbenga Reply
hw can we solve problem of scarcity
scarcity is not necessarily a problem but a constant condition of the world. there are not enough resources to satisfy the unlimited wants.
wee need to be cooperative
by unlimited resourses and abundant want
What is the economic problem
And what is demand pull inflation
why do compute GDP?
steven Reply
can anyone shortly determine the word inflation.
Ibrahim Reply
Continous increase in the general level of prices or in the cost of living.
persistent increased in general price level
all correct...
rise in price.
deserving of money
A persistent tendency for nominal prices to increase
What is the problem of economic problem
the father of economics
Reuben Reply
Adem smith
Adem smith
Adem smith sure
the father of economic regarding to adam Smith
the father of political of economic and capitalism in his book and inquary in to the wealth of the nation.
Adam Smith his the father of economic
difference between injection and leakage
what is monopoly
Monopoly is a market structure where there is one firm who dominate the industry
hi,, I am new here. please welcome me.
you are welcome
monopoly is the one characterized by a mkt power in which a firm is a price maker
Some member just ask questions but not answering so y this happen
Monopoly is a market where only one seller exists. No competition
how long does the patent right prevail the monopoly
no attempt
what is state farming
anybody to attempt
Hi, I'm a new member please will you welcome me

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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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