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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.


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

explain scarcity
Richard Reply
scarcity occurs when there are not enough resources to satisfy human's needs and wants therefore we need to allocate our resources using the price mechanism.
scarcity is when there is inadequate resources to catch the unlimited wants which would compel individual to make choice.
joint or complementary demand
Ryt Reply
what is demand
Qudus Reply
it maybe define as the amount or quantity of goods and services which a consumer is willing to buy with the ability to pay at a given price at a particular time
yesoo thanks dear
why is economics a science
Isaac Reply
Because science is all about thinking by making models whether a computational or Mathematical. Economics is a social sciences because it effects society but to understand Economics we use maths so it is a Science
I hope.......Economic is social science because it makes new new currency of money,it is decided the country’s depend system and the system be repeated others benefits in our ...
so what is the disadvantages of mix economic system
Economics is regarded as a social science because it uses scientific methods to build theories that can help explain the behaviour of individuals, groups and organisations.
The question is: why is Economic a "science" and not why is economics a "social science?" Alright folks?
In my own understanding of why economics is a science it bcz it deals mainly on human resources just like biology that deals in the human body why economics is science it also deals on the management of human resources all over the world bcz without economics there will be no human resources
what is technology
my response to the earlier question is, economics is a science but not a pure science like biology, chemistry and physics. The reason is that those pure science study inanimate object while economics study human being, their experiment are predictable.
Economics is a social science subject that shows the relationship between ends and scarce means with their alternative uses
what is Equilibrium?
Fatima Reply
it means equal price and equal quality
thank u Arthur!
Equilibrium is a state of balance in an economy. In as far as market forces are reasonably concerned, equilibrium means the state at which the quantity of goods supplied is equal to the quantity of goods demanded.
what is labour
labor can be define as a both physical and mental effort of man put forward towards production
name the types of demand and explain any two
Joint demand Composite demand Competitive demand
Labourcan be defined as man mental and physical exertion
what is elasticity
Motseoa Reply
difference between demand and supply
Adeyemi Reply
Demand- It is the desire of a buyer and his ability to pay for a particular commodity at a specific price. Supply- It is quantity of a commodity which is made available by the producers to its consumers at certain price.
yes OK thank you dear
Demand can be defined as the ability a buyer is willing and able to pay at a specific price and in agiven period of time Supply can be defined as the ability the producer is willing to supply with a specific price
what is labor force
restriction on international trade
Ayim Reply
formula for price elasticity of demand
Lognyuu Reply
what is average cost advantage and absolute cost advantage
Tamo Reply
what is demand
Home Reply
demand can be defined as the quantity of a commodity which people are willing to buy at particular times and at a given price .
you are talking about campaney in my self ihave campaney why don't you calculated my business
Adow Reply
formula for price elasticity of demand
Emilia Reply
Suppose that a soft drink company calculates that the demand for a bottle of its soda increases from 100 to 110 after the price is cut from $2 to $1.50.
The price elasticity of demand is calculated as the percentage change in quantity demanded (110 - 100 / 100 = 10%) divided by a percentage change in price ($2 - $1.50 / $2).
what does unit price mean
Lognyuu Reply
unit price is the price for a single unit of measure of a product sold in more or less than the single unit.
How do we find unit price?
divide total cost by total units
I don't understand the unit Price
which one how find or what
sorry how to find it or what
please how do we find the unit price
unit price or cost is the price per item when you purchase in a bulk
example assuming you bought a pack of matches is 1gh but the pack contains 10 boxes so the price per the box is called the unit price ie divide 1gh by the number of matches boxes in the pack to get unit price/cost. NB unit here means one so price per 1
you will divide total cost by total unit
yes please
yes, in the matches scenario it's 1gh/10boxes which is equal to 0.10ps so the unit price of the one box of the matches is ten Ghana pesewas
Thank you I now understand
Given that the price of a product has rose, the demand of the the product will decrease. Thus leads to a downward-sloping demand curve
M_geshnee Reply
The demand of consumers
No demand curves have différent shapes. For examole guven that price of a product increase, the demand of that product will decrease thus It will lead to a downward sloping curve conversely there can be also a rightward shift in the demand curve when price a the good decrease demand will increase

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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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