<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

In this example, a small or medium plant, like S or M, will not be able to compete in the market with a large or a very large plant like L or V, because the firm that operates L or V will be able to produce and sell their output at a lower price. In this example, economies of scale operate up to point L, but beyond point L to V, the additional scale of production does not continue to reduce average costs of production.

Economies of scale

The graph shows declining average costs. The x-axis plots the quantity of production or the scale of the plant and the y-axis plots the average costs. The average cost curve is a declining function, starting at (30, 30) with plant S, declining at a decreasing rate to (150, 10) with plant L, and (200, 10) with plant V, as explained in the text.
Production Plant S, has an average cost of production of $30 per toaster oven. Production plant M has an average cost of production of $20 per toaster oven. Production plant L has an average cost of production of only $10 per toaster oven. Production plant V would still have an average cost of production of $10 per toaster oven. Thus, production plant M can produce toaster ovens more cheaply than plant S because of economies of scale, and plants L or V can produce more cheaply than S or M because of economies of scale. However, the economies of scale end at an output level of 150. Plant V, despite being larger, cannot produce more cheaply on average than plant L.

The concept of economies of scale becomes especially relevant to international trade when it enables one or two large producers to supply the entire country. For example, a single large automobile factory could probably supply all the cars purchased in a smaller economy like the United Kingdom or Belgium in a given year. However, if a country has only one or two large factories producing cars, and no international trade , then consumers in that country would have relatively little choice between kinds of cars (other than the color of the paint and other nonessential options). Little or no competition will exist between different car manufacturers.

International trade provides a way to combine the lower average production costs that come from economies of scale and still have competition and variety for consumers. Large automobile factories in different countries can make and sell their products around the world. If the U.S. automobile market was made up of only General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, the level of competition and consumer choice would be quite a lot lower than when U.S. carmakers must face competition from Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Subaru, and others. Greater competition brings with it innovation and responsiveness to what consumers want. America’s car producers make far better cars now than they did several decades ago, and much of the reason is competitive pressure, especially from East Asian and European carmakers.

Dynamic comparative advantage

The sources of gains from intra-industry trade between similar economies—namely, the learning that comes from a high degree of specialization and splitting up the value chain and from economies of scale—do not contradict the earlier theory of comparative advantage. Instead, they help to broaden the concept.

In intra-industry trade, the level of worker productivity is not determined by climate or geography. It is not even determined by the general level of education or skill. Instead, the level of worker productivity is determined by how firms engage in specific learning about specialized products, including taking advantage of economies of scale. In this vision, comparative advantage can be dynamic—that is, it can evolve and change over time as new skills are developed and as the value chain is split up in new ways. This line of thinking also suggests that countries are not destined to have the same comparative advantage forever, but must instead be flexible in response to ongoing changes in comparative advantage.

Key concepts and summary

A large share of global trade happens between high-income economies that are quite similar in having well-educated workers and advanced technology. These countries practice intra-industry trade, in which they import and export the same products at the same time, like cars, machinery, and computers. In the case of intra-industry trade between economies with similar income levels, the gains from trade come from specialized learning in very particular tasks and from economies of scale. Splitting up the value chain means that several stages of producing a good take place in different countries around the world.

Problems

From earlier chapters you will recall that technological change shifts the average cost curves. Draw a graph showing how technological change could influence intra-industry trade.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Consider two countries: South Korea and Taiwan. Taiwan can produce one million mobile phones per day at the cost of $10 per phone and South Korea can produce 50 million mobile phones at $5 per phone. Assume these phones are the same type and quality and there is only one price. What is the minimum price at which both countries will engage in trade?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

References

U.S. Census Bureau. 2015. “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services: December 2014.” Accessed April 13, 2015. http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/trade/2015/pdf/trad1214.pdf.

U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2015. “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services February 2015.” Accessed April 10, 2015. https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/ft900.pdf.

Vernengo, Matias. “What Do Undergraduates Really Need to Know About Trade and Finance?” in Political Economy and Contemporary Capitalism: Radical Perspectives on Economic Theory and Policy , ed. Ron Baiman, Heather Boushey, and Dawn Saunders. M. E. Sharpe Inc, 2000. Armonk. 177-183.

Questions & Answers

Demand is set to be enlastic when its what
bohvy Reply
more than boll had him had bhaag......
SHADAB
Cant you speak in English
john
a little
Tith
I do speak English.. the question is Demand is set to be elasticity went the dash *2
bohvy
if I want some document from,that 9k?
Tith
hi
muhammed
if both %^ Increase in input & %^ increase in output, then it is elastic and = to 1.
Rowda
Allah's Allah's last I'll be in the area around.....
SHADAB
why is scarcity a fundamental problem in economic
Abubakar Reply
what is demand curve
Takyi Reply
xplain
Ubong
thanks for your help with the same....
SHADAB
What is elasticity of demand
Karim
what is opportunity cost
Samuel Reply
Opportunity cost which also mean real cost it is a term used for foregone alternatives
john
what is demand
ikea Reply
Demand may simply be define as the total quantity of good or service a consumer are willing to buy at a specific price within a period of time.
john
your language is tough
techy Reply
How economics is related to other subjects?
Mikateko Reply
It is social science related subjects
john
How ? explain
Mikateko
and something else help me about business cycle
Mikateko
s classified as a social science. This view makes eco­nomics an academic relative of political science, sociology, psychology and anthropology. All of these disciplines study the behaviour of human beings individually and in groups.
john
The business cycle describes the rise and fall in production output of goods and services in an economy. Business cycles are generally measured using the rise and fall in the real gross domestic product (GDP) or the GDP.
john
hello everyone
Selena
hii
Yes
hello selena
Yes
How are you doing every one
john
hello Selena
Yes
hi
NONSO
yes
NONSO
What Is Economic Growth?
Saviour Reply
is the increase of quantity of goods ans services
Hashi
what is economic
Yomina Reply
Economic may be define as the science which studies human behaviour in relationship with end and scarce which have alternative use. This definition was drafted by Lionel robbin
john
good
Tith
it is science of wealth.
SHADAB
if I want some documents from you ,Are you ok?
Tith
it is not only wealth as well as welfare also.as well as scarce means of ends,for human satisfaction for alternative uses.
Avijit
economics applications
techy
who should study economics
Mary Reply
hi
Adu
How are you doing
john
finr
Tith
sorry, fine
Tith
and you?
Tith
Good
Adu
where do you live?
Tith
Accra n u
Adu
what's the difference between elasticity and demand
Rich Reply
if country had a potential full employment income of Rs 1000 and following consumption and investment function C=0.75 y=50,I=150.find the level of government expenditure necessary to maintain full employment
Vijay Reply
what is China's economy
Ved
the meaning of elasticity
Yawe Reply
when equilibrium is égal to 1
Moussa
The tendency to change consumption habits with change in price
Iben
The type of elasticity if demand
Okonkwo Reply
aren't leaving too about bathrooms
SHADAB
I don't understand
Amina
like.
Ubong
Price elasticity of demand cross elasticity of demand income elasticity of demand
Lawrence
what is money
Lawal Reply
what is supply
Lawal
the total number of goods present at a particular area at a particular time
Offset

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?

Ask