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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 happens when maximum price is placed above equilibrium price
Christian Reply
the demand curve falls
Ewerton
explain the term : law of demand and it's function
Evacon Reply
law of demand state that the higher the price the lower the quantity demanded and vice versa
Moka
Está correto, sua função também é a de estabilizar o mercado do produto em questão, seu preço, sua produção, etc.
Ewerton
higher******
Umar
what are raw materials
Fatmah Reply
the basic material from which a product is made. "these could be used as raw material"
ADAMU
fatmah raw material, also known as a feedstock, oky is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials that are feedstock for future finished products. just to make outputs.
ADAMU
oh yeah I got it .. thank you for your help 😊
Fatmah
hello my dear friends
Au
hello
Fatmah
hello
Muhammad
hy
Sortema
Any notes on ppf.?
George
can anyone clarify features of internal efficiency with reference to education
Sortema
in an open economy, the GDP is measured as ?
jacobs Reply
what is Labour of supply.
Eshmel Reply
it is called supply of labour
Emmanuel
it is the total number of those the producer is expected to employ at a given time and at an existing wage rate
Emmanuel
it is a sum number of employees the manufacturer wish to employ in a period of time , and at a given wage rate
Evacon
if the price of yam increases what will happen to demand curve?
Lawal Reply
the demand curve will decrease
Fatmah
with table and diagrametic illustration
Usama Reply
ok
Mustafe
if the price elasticity of demand for a commodity is zero the demand curve is
Aryan Reply
the demand curve is inelastic
Emmanuel
this is because price bring about a lesser change in quantity demanded
Emmanuel
how are we going to draw scale of preference
Achor Reply
how do we identify choice
Achor
how do we identify opportunity cost
Achor
opportunity cost is the forgone alternative. in oder words, it is the sacrificed goods or service for another. thus, the item you did not buy with the resources you have thereby buying another one is called opportunity cost. thanks
John
Opportunity cost considers only the next best alternative to an action, not the entire set of alternatives, and takes into account all of the differences between the two choices.
ADAMU
IAC curve is geueraly
Subham Reply
what are the benefits or tourism?
Maake Reply
please I don't understand the division of labor increase
Dery Reply
Labour increasing according to demand of company or as the condition of profit and standards or weight of working level ,,,,
SHOM
Please can someone help me With the demand of labour.
Eshmel
what are the basic concept of economics
Busanga Reply
end mean and scarcity
Dery
What the term economics?
Nuran Reply
economic is the study of mankind in the ordinary business life
Dery
want to find how can a geography teacher can contribute to the economic development of a country .
Bernadette Reply
how are u
Usama
i am fine
Purnima
it can help to prevent world wars 😂😂😂😂
Vedaant
it can help to prevent world wars 😂😂😂😂
Vedaant

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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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