<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

The most common way price supports work is that the government enters the market and buys up the product, adding to demand to keep prices higher than they otherwise would be. According to the Common Agricultural Policy reform passed in 2013, the European Union (EU) will spend about 60 billion euros per year, or 67 billion dollars per year, or roughly 38% of the EU budget, on price supports for Europe’s farmers from 2014 to 2020.

[link] illustrates the effects of a government program that assures a price above the equilibrium by focusing on the market for wheat in Europe. In the absence of government intervention, the price would adjust so that the quantity supplied would equal the quantity demanded at the equilibrium point E 0 , with price P 0 and quantity Q 0 . However, policies to keep prices high for farmers keeps the price above what would have been the market equilibrium level—the price Pf shown by the dashed horizontal line in the diagram. The result is a quantity supplied in excess of the quantity demanded (Qd). When quantity supplied exceeds quantity demanded, a surplus exists.

The high-income areas of the world, including the United States, Europe, and Japan, are estimated to spend roughly $1 billion per day in supporting their farmers. If the government is willing to purchase the excess supply (or to provide payments for others to purchase it), then farmers will benefit from the price floor, but taxpayers and consumers of food will pay the costs. Numerous proposals have been offered for reducing farm subsidies. In many countries, however, political support for subsidies for farmers remains strong. Either because this is viewed by the population as supporting the traditional rural way of life or because of the lobbying power of the agro-business industry.

For more detail on the effects price ceilings and floors have on demand and supply, see the following Clear It Up feature.

European wheat prices: a price floor example

The graph shows an example of a price floor which results in a surplus.
The intersection of demand (D) and supply (S) would be at the equilibrium point E 0 . However, a price floor set at Pf holds the price above E 0 and prevents it from falling. The result of the price floor is that the quantity supplied Qs exceeds the quantity demanded Qd. There is excess supply, also called a surplus.

Do price ceilings and floors change demand or supply?

Neither price ceilings nor price floors cause demand or supply to change. They simply set a price that limits what can be legally charged in the market. Remember, changes in price do not cause demand or supply to change. Price ceilings and price floors can cause a different choice of quantity demanded along a demand curve, but they do not move the demand curve. Price controls can cause a different choice of quantity supplied along a supply curve, but they do not shift the supply curve.

Key concepts and summary

Price ceilings prevent a price from rising above a certain level. When a price ceiling is set below the equilibrium price, quantity demanded will exceed quantity supplied, and excess demand or shortages will result. Price floors prevent a price from falling below a certain level. When a price floor is set above the equilibrium price, quantity supplied will exceed quantity demanded, and excess supply or surpluses will result. Price floors and price ceilings often lead to unintended consequences.


A low-income country decides to set a price ceiling on bread so it can make sure that bread is affordable to the poor. The conditions of demand and supply are given in [link] . What are the equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity before the price ceiling? What will the excess demand or the shortage (that is, quantity demanded minus quantity supplied) be if the price ceiling is set at $2.40? At $2.00? At $3.60?

Price Qd Qs
$1.60 9,000 5,000
$2.00 8,500 5,500
$2.40 8,000 6,400
$2.80 7,500 7,500
$3.20 7,000 9,000
$3.60 6,500 11,000
$4.00 6,000 15,000
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

What are the reasons for the existence of monopoly?
Gerry Reply
Because such barriers occur in different forms, there are therefore varying reasons for the existence of monopolies. Ownership of a Key Resource: When one company exerts sole control over a resource that is necessary for the production of a specific product, the market may become a monopoly.
Thanks Kenneth
what is international trade
Syed Reply
what is imperfect compition
what is crowding out effect
what is federal finance?
what is populic
what is imperfect compition
Explain five importance of the study of economic
Francis Reply
study of economics help a person to make rational choice in multiple wants. help individual to be a well all-round thinker.
the five important of the study of economics are as follows (1)time (2)management of resources (3)choice making (4)business(5)scarcity
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 ?
is when the supply and demand are balanced
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.

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?