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

  • Differentiate between infinite and zero elasticity
  • Analyze graphs in order to classify elasticity as constant unitary, infinite, or zero

There are two extreme cases of elasticity: when elasticity equals zero and when it is infinite. A third case is that of constant unitary elasticity. We will describe each case. Infinite elasticity or perfect elasticity    refers to the extreme case where either the quantity demanded (Qd) or supplied (Qs) changes by an infinite amount in response to any change in price at all. In both cases, the supply and the demand curve    are horizontal as shown in [link] . While perfectly elastic supply curves are unrealistic, goods with readily available inputs and whose production can be easily expanded will feature highly elastic supply curves. Examples include pizza, bread, books and pencils. Similarly, perfectly elastic demand is an extreme example. But luxury goods, goods that take a large share of individuals’ income, and goods with many substitutes are likely to have highly elastic demand curves. Examples of such goods are Caribbean cruises and sports vehicles.

Infinite elasticity

Two graphs, side by side, show that perfectly elastic demand and perfectly elastic supply are both straight, horizontal lines.
The horizontal lines show that an infinite quantity will be demanded or supplied at a specific price. This illustrates the cases of a perfectly (or infinitely) elastic demand curve and supply curve. The quantity supplied or demanded is extremely responsive to price changes, moving from zero for prices close to P to infinite when price reach P.

Zero elasticity or perfect inelasticity    , as depicted in [link] refers to the extreme case in which a percentage change in price, no matter how large, results in zero change in quantity. While a perfectly inelastic supply is an extreme example, goods with limited supply of inputs are likely to feature highly inelastic supply curves. Examples include diamond rings or housing in prime locations such as apartments facing Central Park in New York City. Similarly, while perfectly inelastic demand is an extreme case, necessities with no close substitutes are likely to have highly inelastic demand curves. This is the case of life-saving drugs and gasoline.

Zero elasticity

The two graphs show that zero elasticity of supply and zero elasticity of demand are straight, vertical lines.
The vertical supply curve and vertical demand curve show that there will be zero percentage change in quantity (a) demanded or (b) supplied, regardless of the price.

Constant unitary elasticity , in either a supply or demand curve, occurs when a price change of one percent results in a quantity change of one percent. [link] shows a demand curve with constant unit elasticity. As we move down the demand curve from A to B, the price falls by 33% and quantity demanded rises by 33%; as you move from B to C, the price falls by 25% and the quantity demanded rises by 25%; as you move from C to D, the price falls by 16% and the quantity rises by 16%. Notice that in absolute value, the declines in price, as you step down the demand curve, are not identical. Instead, the price falls by $3 from A to B, by a smaller amount of $1.50 from B to C, and by a still smaller amount of $0.75 from C to D. As a result, a demand curve with constant unitary elasticity moves from a steeper slope on the left and a flatter slope on the right—and a curved shape overall.

A constant unitary elasticity demand curve

This graph shows how a demand curve with unitary elasticity at all points will always be a curved line.
A demand curve with constant unitary elasticity will be a curved line. Notice how price and quantity demanded change by an identical amount in each step down the demand curve.

Unlike the demand curve with unitary elasticity, the supply curve with unitary elasticity is represented by a straight line. In moving up the supply curve from left to right, each increase in quantity of 30, from 90 to 120 to 150 to 180, is equal in absolute value. However, in percentage value, the steps are decreasing, from 33.3% to 25% to 16.7%, because the original quantity points in each percentage calculation are getting larger and larger, which expands the denominator in the elasticity calculation.

Consider the price changes moving up the supply curve in [link] . From points D to E to F and to G on the supply curve, each step of $1.50 is the same in absolute value. However, if the price changes are measured in percentage change terms, they are also decreasing, from 33.3% to 25% to 16.7%, because the original price points in each percentage calculation are getting larger and larger in value. Along the constant unitary elasticity supply curve, the percentage quantity increases on the horizontal axis exactly match the percentage price increases on the vertical axis—so this supply curve has a constant unitary elasticity at all points.

A constant unitary elasticity supply curve

This graph shows that a supply curve with unitary elasticity at all points will always be a straight line.
A constant unitary elasticity supply curve is a straight line reaching up from the origin. Between each point, the percentage increase in quantity supplied is the same as the percentage increase in price.

Key concepts and summary

Infinite or perfect elasticity refers to the extreme case where either the quantity demanded or supplied changes by an infinite amount in response to any change in price at all. Zero elasticity refers to the extreme case in which a percentage change in price, no matter how large, results in zero change in quantity. Constant unitary elasticity in either a supply or demand curve refers to a situation where a price change of one percent results in a quantity change of one percent.

Problems

The supply of paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, who painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper and died in 1519, is highly inelastic. Sketch a supply and demand diagram, paying attention to the appropriate elasticities, to illustrate that demand for these paintings will determine the price.

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Say that a certain stadium for professional football has 70,000 seats. What is the shape of the supply curve for tickets to football games at that stadium? Explain.

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When someone’s kidneys fail, the person needs to have medical treatment with a dialysis machine (unless or until they receive a kidney transplant) or they will die. Sketch a supply and demand diagram, paying attention to the appropriate elasticities, to illustrate that the supply of such dialysis machines will primarily determine the price.

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Questions & Answers

who is the father of economics
Acquah Reply
Adam Smith...
Chris
adam smith father of modern economics alfred Marshall father of micro economics john Maynard Keynes father of macro economics
vinay
Adam smith
Esther
Adam smith is the father of classical economics.
yusuf
david recardo
Tariku
The economic field existed because of the limited resources and unlimited human wants. why is it so?
Eliud Reply
state the law of diminish return
Abobarin
the law of diminishing returns states that every additional increase in the variable factor of production, keeping other factors fixed, will eventually reach a point were returns will diminish with every successive unit of factor added.
Hamna
who is the father of Ethiopian Economics?
Tariku
the system of economics
molos Reply
what is economics system
molos
is an arrangement for managing the relatively scarce resources in a particular place and at a particular time
Samuel
but also allocate resources equally ?
Furkan
economic is the study of what
Abba
Economics is a science which studies humam behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternate uses
Samuel
what is the law of equilibrium.
Henry Reply
The law of equilibrium states that when the demand of a commodity is equal to the supply
Stanley
what is demand curve
Gift
demand carve is a graphical representation of the relationship between the price of the or the service and the quantity demanded for a given period of time
Adamsvictor
Is the graphical representation of demand schedule. Also it has negative slope
Abubakary
The law of equilibrium is state that the quantity demand are equal to quantity supply.
Abubakary
sometimes demand exceeds supply or vice versa .In the first situation prices tend to rise therefore supply and demand meet the balance point called as equilibrium .
Furkan
the point of intersection mathematically but this is just an assumption that all other variables remain equal
Deleon
when there is excess supply and demand it means there is forces acting upon the equilibrium and prices should be decreased or increased appropriately
Deleon
The law of equilibrium states that ceteris paribus, at a certain two variables will be equal to each other.
Sessay
The difference between cyclical unemployment and structural unemployment
Prince Reply
Cyclical unemployment .it has to do with an increase in the quantity of good demanded or there is over production which result in fall in prices. Industries will be affected it will now causes retrenchment of workers in the industries while structural unemployment arises as a result of slight change
Adeoti
In the industrial structure of a countries workers wil now be retren
Adeoti
Will now be retrenched as a result of economic recession... That is the little i knw....
Adeoti
what is the condition of a consumer behaviour in the equilibrium under the theory of consumer behaviour
Sahr Reply
what is equilibrium
Sahr
A point where quantity demand & supply meets called equilibrium
Hasham
a state is said to be equilibrium when there is no tendency of movement.
Nibedita
Pls @Nibedita am confused
Prince
The state of balance achieved by an end user of products that refers to the amount of goods and services they can purchase given their present level of income and the current level of prices. Consumer equilibrium allows a consumer to obtain the most satisfaction possible from their income.
Okwori
where is the calculations?
Nathan Reply
what are the two conditions for aconsumer to be in the equilibrium under the theory of consumer behaviour in
Sahr
Economic equilibrium is a condition or state in which economic forces are balanced. In effect, economic variables remain unchanged from their equilibrium values in the absence of external influences. Economic equilibrium may also be defined as the point at which supply equals demand for a product,
vinay
Hello there, let's make a time to chat about econimics and its issues.
DA Reply
it's true
Adamsvictor
hie Sir /Madam l need help when it comes to Economics lm doing it for the first time
Thembelani
So, share your problems that you have in terms of economis and we will discuss on it.
DA
Basic Economic problems
Thembelani
what is the Basic Economic problem
Thembelani
what is the Basic Economic problem
Thembelani Reply
scarcity
Rhaiymornd
a bit of explanation please its my first year doing Economics
Thembelani
rare, limited. economic agents eg You dube, the govt & the business entities wants to maximise their utility/satisfaction but because limited resource or scarcity of such resources they are unable to satisfy their needs.
ian
thank u Sir , l understand what you are saying now
Thembelani
limited resources; you wanna take the most benefits from the minimum resource.
DA
if u ar a fresher, eco has to 2 fundamental parts "micro & macro". micro(small) this is were the economc agents ar discussd, economc systms, dmand & supply, typs of market systms etc and the macro (big) part the elucidates the functns of central bank, typs of employmnt, functns of money & int trade.
ian
there is an old adage that says "a picture is worth a thousand words" economics is full of graphing so it requires on the side of the student to master the art of keeping information in form graphs.
ian
oky Sir
Thembelani
scarcity becomes the fundamental problem of economics because of limited resources, when we take an individual, he or she has many wants, thus unlimited wants but can never satisfy all but only few.
Rhaiymornd
now when we take a firm, a firm maybe willing to produce two or more product into the market but due to limited resources they only produce one. the same way if we take the government, he or she maybe willing to bring development either through infrastructures,
Rhaiymornd
that is when consumer decision making rule comes in
Olusegun
choice arises as a result of scarcity of resources
Olusegun
so if we look through, the individual, firm and government, their wants are unlimited but due limited resources, all of their wants cannot be satisfy. therefore scarcity can be term as limited in supply of resources. scarcity is not lack of resources but insufficient resources
Rhaiymornd
there is a marriage with the following; scarcity, factors of production, opportunity cost curve (occ) or (ppc, ppf, tc) production possibility curve productn possibility frontier transformation curve. The OCC, PPC, PPF & TC explains the decisions made by householders, firms & the govt.
ian
opportunity cost also arises as a result of firm willing to produce a particular commodity but resources use in satisfying or producing such output is limited
Olusegun
wat ar those decisions? the most important is WHY nations economise tht is if they hav abundancy of factors of productn eg land, labour & entreprise? now since all of us have unlimited needs against few resourcs PPC, PPF, TC, OCC walks in to make wise allocatn of resources.
ian
how do those decisions made? eg by economic agents; a. Household (You) - if u have R10 & wish to buy a book & a pen & realise that both commodities seĺl at the same price which of the two (2) can u buy (necesity) and which one can u forgo (not all tht important).
ian
b. firms - they allocat mo resourcs to all thoz commoditz tht they think will yield mo profit. c. Govt - if the govt SA was to come in yo area which 1 would u think they can consider first tht can benefit the majority & the minority. So instead of building football stadium they construct a hospital.
ian
if the SA govt had enough resources they would have built both the stadium and the hospital but because of scarce in terms of resources they had to forgo the construction the stadium to build a hospital which is necessary for the majority to benefit.
ian
Opportunity cost well broken down..
Andres
opportunity cost means the lose of other alternatives when the alternative is chosen
saad Reply
is the benefits that you loose by not selecting a certain alternative.
EDWINY
individual wants maybe unlimited, but means to satisfy them are limited there one has to forgo some alternative in order to acquire other alternative and it must according priority, that is when scale of preference set in for individuals to make choice
Rhaiymornd
hello everyone
Aliyu
Next best alternative forgiven
Shoaib
demand is the amount of goods and services that consumer is willing and able to purchase at a particular prices over given period of time
Rhaiymornd Reply
yep
Abraham
what's demand?
labi Reply
What customers want the most...
Abraham
not only what customers wants, want is just mere desire but demand is backed by purchasing power, ability and willingness
Rhaiymornd
thanks
Abraham
What's opportunity cost?
Abraham
what are the differences between demand and supply
Zakariyah Reply
who is called lender of the last resort
Divyanshu Reply
Hi
Linda
hlw
Karishma
Central bank
Majeed
hy
Karishma
Hello
Majeed
hy
Karishma
How are you
Majeed
Am gud
Linda
fine
Karishma
Am gud
Linda
hello
Chandra
Well! what's going on
Majeed
r u study in economics
Karishma
anybody there?
Chandra
r u study in economics
Karishma
the central bank
Sessay
Has completed already
Majeed
hey
neha
yes
Abigail
Yesss
Majeed
ok
Karishma
hey
Doctor
yh
Abigail
more questions
Sessay
how ar you
Doctor
split the price effect into income effect and substitution effect
Karishma
fine and u
Abigail
Hi
Godwin
hi
Hey, I am new here. Hope, discussion on Economics will clear our concepts more.
yasir
yes
Abigail
do u speak hindi or english
Karishma
how to consumer equlibrium through ic
Karishma
consumer equilibrium demand equals supply
Kenneth
the consumer is in equilibrium when the indifference curve is tangential to the budget line. or when the BL and IC intersect
Sessay
reasons indifference curve slopes downwards?
Kenneth
fine Abby any good,
Doctor
ur lost
Doctor
hey. im new year. economics teacher how we can discuss some thing interesting.
EDWINY
which one
Doctor
what do u understand the concept of poverty cycle.
EDWINY
hey
Ebong
I'm New here
Ebong
hi
ian
just new here guy's and also an Economics fresher of Kogi State University Anyigba
nelson
wxup
Ayegba
who can tell the laboratory of economic?
Amara
, Dennis Weissman Associates, LLC Laboratory Economics is the monthly business newsletter that gets behind the headlines and press releases.
Ayegba
sooo teah me what an LLC
Emmanuel
what's the topic
Adamsvictor Reply
economic systems
gracious
hello
Antonio
market
aba
hello where can I find the diagrams
Manu
Hello I am totally out ,I am not understanding why we are here. can someone help me out?
Amara
why Economic is not a pure science can someone help me out
Mohamed
because economics like science put forth a some hypotheses and then do experiments to prove them
Anwesh
but these experiments are not completely controlled
Anwesh
Hello
Comfort
hey
suraj
hi people can you help me out on "demand and supply"
Milton
Am not understanding can someone enlighten me pls
Bertilla
hi people can you help me out on "demand and supply"
Sessay
hello. if Mr.Patrick's income is #900.00 while that of Mr.Shodawe is #1300.00 if Mr.Patrick and Shodowe pay #90.00 and #130.00 as taxes,the tax system is?
Benjamin
I need the answer please
Benjamin
regressive tax system
shaikh
OK thanks
Benjamin
Isn't this called proportional tax rate because the rate stays the same - 10%? Tell me if I'm wrong
Ioan

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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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