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Excise taxes tend to be thought to hurt mainly the specific industries they target. For example, the medical device excise tax, in effect since 2013, has been controversial for it can delay industry profitability and therefore hamper start-ups and medical innovation. But ultimately, whether the tax burden falls mostly on the medical device industry or on the patients depends simply on the elasticity of demand and supply.

Long-run vs. short-run impact

Elasticities are often lower in the short run than in the long run. On the demand side of the market, it can sometimes be difficult to change Qd in the short run, but easier in the long run. Consumption of energy is a clear example. In the short run, it is not easy for a person to make substantial changes in the energy consumption. Maybe you can carpool to work sometimes or adjust your home thermostat by a few degrees if the cost of energy rises, but that is about all. However, in the long-run you can purchase a car that gets more miles to the gallon, choose a job that is closer to where you live, buy more energy-efficient home appliances, or install more insulation in your home. As a result, the elasticity of demand for energy is somewhat inelastic in the short run, but much more elastic in the long run.

[link] is an example, based roughly on historical experience, for the responsiveness of Qd to price changes. In 1973, the price of crude oil was $12 per barrel and total consumption in the U.S. economy was 17 million barrels per day. That year, the nations who were members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut off oil exports to the United States for six months because the Arab members of OPEC disagreed with the U.S. support for Israel. OPEC did not bring exports back to their earlier levels until 1975—a policy that can be interpreted as a shift of the supply curve to the left in the U.S. petroleum market. [link] (a) and [link] (b) show the same original equilibrium point and the same identical shift of a supply curve to the left from S 0 to S 1 .

How a shift in supply can affect price or quantity

Two graphs that show an inelastic demand curve means that a shift in supply will mainly affect price and that an elastic demand curve means that a shift in supply will mainly affect quantity.
The intersection (E 0 ) between demand curve D and supply curve S 0 is the same in both (a) and (b). The shift of supply to the left from S 0 to S 1 is identical in both (a) and (b). The new equilibrium (E 1 ) has a higher price and a lower quantity than the original equilibrium (E 0 ) in both (a) and (b). However, the shape of the demand curve D is different in (a) and (b). As a result, the shift in supply can result either in a new equilibrium with a much higher price and an only slightly smaller quantity, as in (a), or in a new equilibrium with only a small increase in price and a relatively larger reduction in quantity, as in (b).

[link] (a) shows inelastic demand for oil in the short run similar to that which existed for the United States in 1973. In [link] (a), the new equilibrium (E 1 ) occurs at a price of $25 per barrel, roughly double the price before the OPEC shock, and an equilibrium quantity of 16 million barrels per day. [link] (b) shows what the outcome would have been if the U.S. demand for oil had been more elastic, a result more likely over the long term. This alternative equilibrium (E 1 ) would have resulted in a smaller price increase to $14 per barrel and larger reduction in equilibrium quantity to 13 million barrels per day. In 1983, for example, U.S. petroleum consumption was 15.3 million barrels a day, which was lower than in 1973 or 1975. U.S. petroleum consumption was down even though the U.S. economy was about one-fourth larger in 1983 than it had been in 1973. The primary reason for the lower quantity was that higher energy prices spurred conservation efforts, and after a decade of home insulation, more fuel-efficient cars, more efficient appliances and machinery, and other fuel-conserving choices, the demand curve for energy had become more elastic.

On the supply side of markets, producers of goods and services typically find it easier to expand production in the long term of several years rather than in the short run of a few months. After all, in the short run it can be costly or difficult to build a new factory, hire many new workers, or open new stores. But over a few years, all of these are possible.

Indeed, in most markets for goods and services, prices bounce up and down more than quantities in the short run, but quantities often move more than prices in the long run. The underlying reason for this pattern is that supply and demand are often inelastic in the short run, so that shifts in either demand or supply can cause a relatively greater change in prices. But since supply and demand are more elastic in the long run, the long-run movements in prices are more muted, while quantity adjusts more easily in the long run.

Key concepts and summary

In the market for goods and services, quantity supplied and quantity demanded are often relatively slow to react to changes in price in the short run, but react more substantially in the long run. As a result, demand and supply often (but not always) tend to be relatively inelastic in the short run and relatively elastic in the long run. The tax incidence depends on the relative price elasticity of supply and demand. When supply is more elastic than demand, buyers bear most of the tax burden, and when demand is more elastic than supply, producers bear most of the cost of the tax. Tax revenue is larger the more inelastic the demand and supply are.

Problems

Assume that the supply of low-skilled workers is fairly elastic, but the employers’ demand for such workers is fairly inelastic. If the policy goal is to expand employment for low-skilled workers, is it better to focus on policy tools to shift the supply of unskilled labor or on tools to shift the demand for unskilled labor? What if the policy goal is to raise wages for this group? Explain your answers with supply and demand diagrams.

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Questions & Answers

what is duopoly
Femi Reply
it's a state where two people control over a market...
Okonkwo
great
jean-renel
why ppf is downward
Ahmad Reply
i didn't understand
Fatima
The PPF is downward because it shows the the unequal opportunity cost ratios existing in the allocation of resources in the production of two major goods/services in a given economy
Elvis
due to opportunity cost.
samson
this is because goods are sacrifice for the production of the other.
Avuwada
Weldon question and good answer . in my opinion when you allocate some more resources for production of one good among two.
Azizullah
any one what is the difference between need and want?
Azizullah
trends in microeconomics
JOSEPH Reply
Worked out examples of calculating the elasticity of supply
Black Reply
briefly describe the term business cycle
Linda Reply
these are the different economic trends observed by an economy at a given time period. we have the slump,recession, recovery and boom
Betole
saran has decided always spend one 4th income on his clothes what is income elasticity of demand in hindi
Saba Reply
income elasticity is 4
Avuwada
what is diminishing returns?
diminishing returns states that as more variable in put is bing employed on a fixed factor marginal product increase attains maximum and falls certeris paribus.
Avuwada
The law of diminishing returns is the a phenomenon that happens when you gain less satisfaction or in another word less marginal utility when you keep on consuming the same thing over and over again. The more you have of something the less desirable it becomes .
sassia
My first post was about the law of diminishing marginal utility, it was meant for another post .
sassia
however to be precise the law of diminishing returns is used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.
sassia
or you can refer to the text it is mentioned that: "the law of diminishing returns    , which holds that as additional increments of resources are added to a certain purpose, the marginal benefit from those additional increments will decline. "
sassia
Diminishing returns states that when more and more variable inputs are being employed on a fixed input, total product and marginal product increases initially attains maximum and falls (certeris paribus) .
Avuwada
What is monopoly
benzi Reply
nothing
Its when one firm controls the entire market and is the price setter
aaa
Define indifference curve
mama Reply
a combination of two commodities which a consumer consume that gives the same level of satisfaction.
samson
what is indifferent curve
Sushmi Reply
it defines we must follow theorie.
Do
graph showing perfectly elastic demand
JASON Reply
an price change demand will fall to zero
Rumbidzai
This only applies to commodities with perfect substitutes,in this situation a small increase in price will lead to no demand but a small decrease in price will lead to more demand.
Wanga
what is market equllibrium
sahel
income elasticity coefficient of demand between high and low income individuals
Lawrence Reply
not clear
john
how will the income elasticity coefficient of demand for slice of cake differ between the high and low income individuals?
Lawrence
what is Substantial effect ?
shiva Reply
help me solve this please Qd=90-2P Qs=sqr(P)-3
Paul Reply
set equal to each other and solve for P. +3 then square both sides
Nelsonomics
I think you have a problem with the#s
Nelsonomics
what are the importance of studying economics
agnes Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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