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

  • Calculate total cost
  • Identify economies of scale, diseconomies of scale, and constant returns to scale
  • Interpret graphs of long-run average cost curves and short-run average cost curves
  • Analyze cost and production in the long run and short run

The long run is the period of time when all costs are variable. The long run depends on the specifics of the firm in question—it is not a precise period of time. If you have a one-year lease on your factory, then the long run is any period longer than a year, since after a year you are no longer bound by the lease. No costs are fixed in the long run. A firm can build new factories and purchase new machinery, or it can close existing facilities. In planning for the long run, the firm will compare alternative production technologies    (or processes).

In this context, technology refers to all alternative methods of combining inputs to produce outputs. It does not refer to a specific new invention like the tablet computer. The firm will search for the production technology that allows it to produce the desired level of output at the lowest cost. After all, lower costs lead to higher profits—at least if total revenues remain unchanged. Moreover, each firm must fear that if it does not seek out the lowest-cost methods of production, then it may lose sales to competitor firms that find a way to produce and sell for less.

Choice of production technology

Many tasks can be performed with a range of combinations of labor and physical capital. For example, a firm can have human beings answering phones and taking messages, or it can invest in an automated voicemail system. A firm can hire file clerks and secretaries to manage a system of paper folders and file cabinets, or it can invest in a computerized recordkeeping system that will require fewer employees. A firm can hire workers to push supplies around a factory on rolling carts, it can invest in motorized vehicles, or it can invest in robots that carry materials without a driver. Firms often face a choice between buying a many small machines, which need a worker to run each one, or buying one larger and more expensive machine, which requires only one or two workers to operate it. In short, physical capital and labor can often substitute for each other.

Consider the example of a private firm that is hired by local governments to clean up public parks. Three different combinations of labor and physical capital for cleaning up a single average-sized park appear in [link] . The first production technology is heavy on workers and light on machines, while the next two technologies substitute machines for workers. Since all three of these production methods produce the same thing—one cleaned-up park—a profit-seeking firm will choose the production technology that is least expensive, given the prices of labor and machines.

Three ways to clean a park
Production technology 1 10 workers 2 machines
Production technology 2 7 workers 4 machines
Production technology 3 3 workers 7 machines

Questions & Answers

how does economics define me
clement Reply
what are the factors that determines the demand and supply
sillah
what are the importance of Economics
Betty Reply
tell me something very important about economics..
Fayaz Reply
how may I solve arithmetic mean ,,,all example
Cee Reply
what is agriculture
Itoe Reply
simple method of understanding cost concept
Oludare Reply
what is inflation
Christiana Reply
Inflation is a general increase in price levels
Zuko
is the action of inflating something
Abdifatah
inflation is the persistent increase in general price level of goods and services in an economy over a considerable period of time .
Tetteh
inflation is the general increase of a commodity in a particular period of time.
Turay
inflation is a general increase in price levels of commodities
shehu
what are the types of inflation?
Ebrima
inflation is the period of persistent rise in the general level of the price of goods services over time
Emmanuel
we have creeping inflation, demand pull inflation ,cost push inflation, and galloping inflation .
Emmanuel
how can a location of a firm create difference between producers
joy Reply
what is monetary policy
joy
hello
Abdifatah
is a monetary from policy that's authorized of country encharces
Abdifatah
What would you say about the the mobility of enterprise as a factor of production?
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what the main definition of economic
Uhara Reply
the main definition is given by prof Lionel Robbins as a social science which studies human behavior between ends and scarce which have alternative uses
olajumoke
what covers macro economics.
Fayaz
Essay about Microsoft
Kwena Reply
what is economics
Julie Reply
what do you mean by means in economics
Julie
economic is the wealth of a country.
Moussa
monetary policy is refer to as being expansionary or contractionary.
Abdul
pls who can help me to explain money market and capital market
Au
money market is base on short term loan which is within one year period while capital market is long term loan more than one year...
Muhammad
money market is a market were short term loans are dealt with while capital market is a market were long term loans are traded
Ebrima
What is mean by monetory policy
Lovely
monetary polices are rules that control the rate of monetary exchange in an economic as a whole.
Ebrima
wealth of the nation
Uhara
important of unemployment
Otwe Reply
Important of unemployed
Otwe
important?
Aneela

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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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