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

  • Show the relationship between production costs and comparative advantage
  • Identify situations of mutually beneficial trade
  • Identify trade benefits by considering opportunity costs

What happens to the possibilities for trade if one country has an absolute advantage in everything? This is typical for high-income countries that often have well-educated workers, technologically advanced equipment, and the most up-to-date production processes. These high-income countries can produce all products with fewer resources than a low-income country. If the high-income country is more productive across the board, will there still be gains from trade? Good students of Ricardo understand that trade is about mutually beneficial exchange. Even when one country has an absolute advantage in all products, trade can still benefit both sides. This is because gains from trade come from specializing in one’s comparative advantage.

Production possibilities and comparative advantage

Consider the example of trade between the United States and Mexico described in [link] . In this example, it takes four U.S. workers to produce 1,000 pairs of shoes, but it takes five Mexican workers to do so. It takes one U.S. worker to produce 1,000 refrigerators, but it takes four Mexican workers to do so. The United States has an absolute advantage in productivity with regard to both shoes and refrigerators; that is, it takes fewer workers in the United States than in Mexico to produce both a given number of shoes and a given number of refrigerators.

Resources needed to produce shoes and refrigerators
Country Number of Workers needed to produce 1,000 units — Shoes Number of Workers needed to produce 1,000 units — Refrigerators
United States 4 workers 1 worker
Mexico 5 workers 4 workers

Absolute advantage simply compares the productivity of a worker between countries. It answers the question, “How many inputs do I need to produce shoes in Mexico?” Comparative advantage asks this same question slightly differently. Instead of comparing how many workers it takes to produce a good, it asks, “How much am I giving up to produce this good in this country?” Another way of looking at this is that comparative advantage identifies the good for which the producer’s absolute advantage is relatively larger, or where the producer’s absolute productivity disadvantage is relatively smaller. The United States can produce 1,000 shoes with four-fifths as many workers as Mexico (four versus five), but it can produce 1,000 refrigerators with only one-quarter as many workers (one versus four). So, the comparative advantage of the United States, where its absolute productivity advantage is relatively greatest, lies with refrigerators, and Mexico’s comparative advantage, where its absolute productivity disadvantage is least, is in the production of shoes.

Mutually beneficial trade with comparative advantage

When nations increase production in their area of comparative advantage and trade with each other, both countries can benefit. Again, the production possibility frontier is a useful tool to visualize this benefit.

Questions & Answers

Given that the elasticity of supply for a good is 2 and the percentage change in price is 45%.What is the percentage change in quantity supplied
Mbe Reply
Please don't understand
Augustina
state and explainfour function of a costumer service
Egba Reply
the circular flow model of the economy is a simplification showing how the economy works and the relationship between income,production and spending in the economy as a whole
Anna Reply
what is circular flow
Ntokozo Reply
what is economics?
Dorcas Reply
Economics is defined as the science that study human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Emmanuella
economics is a social science concerned with the production,distribution, and consumption of goods and services
Michael
in 2021 Amazon reduced the annual subscription fee for its prime membership service which provides free two_day shipping on many goods and other benefits, from $119 to $99. Zoppa consulting, an investment firm estimated that before the price reduction, prime had 62million subscribers globally. If so, what is the arc elasticity of demand for a prime membership.
Joan Reply
Differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics
tatiana Reply
Macroeconomics deal with the economy as a whole.that is an economy affect the firm ,government and the households eg.unemployment, whilst Microeconomics deal with the the decision making of households,firm and government separately.
Amah
what is Economics
Ebem Reply
the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth and has Influence by sociology!!!!
Ajay
Economics is the study of how humans make decisions when they want to fulfil their requirements and desires for goods, services and resources.
Abdullah
Economics is the study how humans make decisions in the faces of scarcity.
Rose
economic is the study of how human make decision in the fact of scarcity.
Toang
Economics is a social science which study human behavior as a relationship between earn and scarce mean which have alternative uses
Juliet
what is market structure
Fatima
market structure in economics depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on types of goods they sell and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements.
Nasir
what is economic theory
Madara
what is demand
Gooluck Reply
demand is the willingness to purchase something
Mohamed
demand is the potential ability or williness to purchases something at a particular price at a given period of time..
Ahmed
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time. Demand can also be defined as the desire backed by ability to purchase .
Fadiga
what is demand
John Reply
is the production of goods in scarcity
David
thanks
John
Demand refers to as quantities of a goods and services in which consumers are willing and able to purchase at a given period of time.
Fadiga
Demand refers to the quantity of goods and services that a consumer is willing and able to buy at a given price over a period of time
Augustina
Do high interest rate in a country increase investment
Alfred
what is demand of supply
music Reply
What is the meaning of supply of labour
Anthonia Reply
what is production?
Elizabeth Reply
Production is basically the creation of goods and services to satisfy human wants
Anthonia
importance of tertiary and example
Elizabeth
Production is the process of producing goods and services to satisfy human needs and want.
Augustina
under what condition will demand curve slope upward from left to right instead of normally sloping downward from left to right
Atama Reply
how i can calculate elasticity?
Tewekel Reply

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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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