<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Visit this website for a list of articles and podcasts pertaining to international trade topics.

A numerical example of absolute and comparative advantage

Consider a hypothetical world with two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United States, and two products, oil and corn. Further assume that consumers in both countries desire both these goods. These goods are homogeneous, meaning that consumers/producers cannot differentiate between corn or oil from either country. There is only one resource available in both countries, labor hours. Saudi Arabia can produce oil with fewer resources, while the United States can produce corn with fewer resources. [link] illustrates the advantages of the two countries, expressed in terms of how many hours it takes to produce one unit of each good.

How many hours it takes to produce oil and corn
Country Oil (hours per barrel) Corn (hours per bushel)
Saudi Arabia 1 4
United States 2 1

In [link] , Saudi Arabia has an absolute advantage in the production of oil because it only takes an hour to produce a barrel of oil compared to two hours in the United States. The United States has an absolute advantage in the production of corn.

To simplify, let’s say that Saudi Arabia and the United States each have 100 worker hours (see [link] ). We illustrate what each country is capable of producing on its own using a production possibility frontier (PPF) graph, shown in [link] . Recall from Choice in a World of Scarcity that the production possibilities frontier shows the maximum amount that each country can produce given its limited resources, in this case workers, and its level of technology.

Production possibilities before trade
Country Oil Production using 100 worker hours (barrels) Corn Production using 100 worker hours (bushels)
Saudi Arabia 100 or 25
United States 50 or 100

Production possibilities frontiers

These graphs illustrate the production possibilities frontier before trade for both Saudi Arabia and the United States using the data in the table titled “Production Possibilities before Trade”. The x-axis plots corn production, measured by bushels, and the y-axis plots oil, in terms of barrels. All points above the frontier are impossible to produce given the current level of resources and technology.
(a) Saudi Arabia can produce 100 barrels of oil at maximum and zero corn (point A), or 25 bushels of corn and zero oil (point B). It can also produce other combinations of oil and corn if it wants to consume both goods, such as at point C. Here it chooses to produce/consume 60 barrels of oil, leaving 40 work hours that can be allocated to producing 10 bushels of corn, using the data in [link] . (b) If the United States produces only oil, it can produce, at maximum, 50 barrels and zero corn (point A'), or at the other extreme, it can produce a maximum of 100 bushels of corn and no oil (point B'). Other combinations of both oil and corn are possible, such as point C'. All points above the frontiers are impossible to produce given the current level of resources and technology.

Arguably Saudi and U.S. consumers desire both oil and corn to live. Let’s say that before trade occurs, both countries produce and consume at point C or C'. Thus, before trade, the Saudi Arabian economy will devote 60 worker hours to produce oil, as shown in [link] . Given the information in [link] , this choice implies that it produces/consumes 60 barrels of oil. With the remaining 40 worker hours, since it needs four hours to produce a bushel of corn, it can produce only 10 bushels. To be at point C', the U.S. economy devotes 40 worker hours to produce 20 barrels of oil and the remaining worker hours can be allocated to produce 60 bushels of corn.

Questions & Answers

what is economics
Mahamed Reply
Economic is science, which Studies human behaviour and who they are earn and spend
Ammu
how to derive the equation for the equilibrium level of national income in an open economy with no taxes
loise Reply
what is inflation?
Herry Reply
Give me 5 example for Macro economics
Neha Reply
1. Markets 2. Market Failure 3. Competition 4. Price Stability 5. Efficiency
Luyando
please can you explain markets and markets failure ?
Timothy
When we talk about Markets as an example of macroeconomics, we look at demand and supply in labor market.
Luyando
Then for market failures, we focus on market inefficiencies and failures such as the destruction of common goods due to economic systems that provide no incentive for their preservation
Luyando
Who is a discourage worker.?
Timothy
a discourage worker is simply a worker who stop looking for a job because he/she believe no job is available for them..
Joseph
sloping curve normal
Mirasol Reply
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol
State what happen to the aggregate supply curve for beef. The price of beef decrease
Mirasol
i think there is positive relationship between price n supply so as the price decreases the supply curve so decreases and vice versa
Dharani
quantity supply will decrease,less.profit for firms in a perfectly competitive market i guess
Joseph
yaa
Dharani
List two REASONS FOR LOW PRODUCTIVITY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES?
KHONAYE Reply
DESCRIBE WHY MARGINALISED GROUPS ARE NORMALLY AFFECTED FIRST DURING A RECESSION.I'M IN GRADE 11
KHONAYE
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol
what are varriable of macro economics
maryam Reply
what is Pareto efficiency?
Kgothatso Reply
What is PPF2?
Joseph Reply
how are commodities important to the country
Oriho Reply
what is the difference between real cost and opportunity cost in economy
Oriho
real costs are total money expenditure for the production of goods and services and opportunity costs is the money which is not included for production, like work of entrepreneurs in their own company
Maheswar
hi everyone how are you?
Prathana Reply
fine wbu
Abinash
fine
ALIM
hi , prathana 🍁🍁
sachin
hello sachin
Prathana
hi any indians?
Karan
I am not indian I am from Nepal 🇳🇵
Prathana
hi I'm Indian
Shraddha
ohh hi indian how are you 😅
Karan
ohh nepal great
Karan
can you tell me prathana you like china more or india
Karan
I loved both
Prathana
oh nice
Karan
R u know ,u disturb some peoples?
Rashmi
@ Karan shoor I'm good n u
Shraddha
fine than you.
Haftay
hii
Maheswar
hello guys
Khadak
hi!! i am from nepal.
Khadak
Hi am fine thanks for you
cabdirixmaan
Abdirahman haaye seetahay
ALIM
ALIM ABDALLA walale fiican dhankaaga
cabdirixmaan
hello
Muhammad
are you studying macroeconomics.
Muhammad
yes
Muhammad
hi every one
Khan
What is foreign reserve? Why countries reserved? And have any limitations of this reserve?
Adil Reply
what is the difference between gdp and cpi?
Luyando Reply
endogenous and exogenous
Afzaal Reply
what is the difference between gdp and cpi?
Luyando
CPI is calculates the price change in goods and services purchased by the households whereas, GDP calculates the price change in goods and services purchased by all the consumers, government, businesses and foreigners.
Alice
yes
rusibana
What is the role of price system in The market economy
Cyrielle Reply

Get the best Macroeconomics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Macroeconomics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask