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Production before trade
Country Oil Production (barrels) Corn Production (bushels)
Saudi Arabia (C) 60 10
United States (C') 20 60
Total World Production 80 70

The slope of the production possibility frontier illustrates the opportunity cost of producing oil in terms of corn. Using all its resources, the United States can produce 50 barrels of oil or 100 bushels of corn. So the opportunity cost of one barrel of oil is two bushels of corn—or the slope is 1/2. Thus, in the U.S. production possibility frontier graph, every increase in oil production of one barrel implies a decrease of two bushels of corn. Saudi Arabia can produce 100 barrels of oil or 25 bushels of corn. The opportunity cost of producing one barrel of oil is the loss of 1/4 of a bushel of corn that Saudi workers could otherwise have produced. In terms of corn, notice that Saudi Arabia gives up the least to produce a barrel of oil. These calculations are summarized in [link] .

Opportunity cost and comparative advantage
Country Opportunity cost of one unit — Oil (in terms of corn) Opportunity cost of one unit — Corn (in terms of oil)
Saudi Arabia ¼ 4
United States 2 ½

Again recall that comparative advantage was defined as the opportunity cost of producing goods. Since Saudi Arabia gives up the least to produce a barrel of oil, ( 1 4  <  2 in [link] ) it has a comparative advantage in oil production. The United States gives up the least to produce a bushel of corn, so it has a comparative advantage in corn production.

In this example, there is symmetry between absolute and comparative advantage. Saudi Arabia needs fewer worker hours to produce oil (absolute advantage, see [link] ), and also gives up the least in terms of other goods to produce oil (comparative advantage, see [link] ). Such symmetry is not always the case, as we will show after we have discussed gains from trade fully. But first, read the following Clear It Up feature to make sure you understand why the PPF line in the graphs is straight.

Can a production possibility frontier be straight?

When you first met the production possibility frontier (PPF) in the chapter on Choice in a World of Scarcity it was drawn with an outward-bending shape. This shape illustrated that as inputs were transferred from producing one good to another—like from education to health services—there were increasing opportunity costs. In the examples in this chapter, the PPFs are drawn as straight lines, which means that opportunity costs are constant. When a marginal unit of labor is transferred away from growing corn and toward producing oil, the decline in the quantity of corn and the increase in the quantity of oil is always the same. In reality this is possible only if the contribution of additional workers to output did not change as the scale of production changed. The linear production possibilities frontier is a less realistic model, but a straight line simplifies calculations. It also illustrates economic themes like absolute and comparative advantage just as clearly.

Gains from trade

Consider the trading positions of the United States and Saudi Arabia after they have specialized and traded. Before trade, Saudi Arabia produces/consumes 60 barrels of oil and 10 bushels of corn. The United States produces/consumes 20 barrels of oil and 60 bushels of corn. Given their current production levels, if the United States can trade an amount of corn fewer than 60 bushels and receives in exchange an amount of oil greater than 20 barrels, it will gain from trade    . With trade, the United States can consume more of both goods than it did without specialization    and trade. (Recall that the chapter Welcome to Economics! defined specialization as it applies to workers and firms. Specialization is also used to describe the occurrence when a country shifts resources to focus on producing a good that offers comparative advantage.) Similarly, if Saudi Arabia can trade an amount of oil less than 60 barrels and receive in exchange an amount of corn greater than 10 bushels, it will have more of both goods than it did before specialization and trade. [link] illustrates the range of trades that would benefit both sides.

Questions & Answers

what is monopoli power
Adzaho Reply
the situation that prevails when economic forces balance so that economic variables neither increase nor decrease
Bombey
what is equilibrium
Kabir
what are the important of economic to accounting students with references
salihu Reply
Economics is important because it helps people understand how a variety of factors work with and against each other to control how resources such as labor and capital get used, and how inflation, supply, demand, interest rates and other factors determine how much you pay for goods and services.
Muhammad
explain the steps taken by the government in developing rural market?
Azeem Reply
contribution of Adam smith in economics
abel Reply
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Dexter
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Patrick
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AS
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Umarou
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AS
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Amir
what is the meaning of function in economics
Effah Reply
Pls, I need more explanation on price Elasticity of Supply
Isaac Reply
Is the degree to the degree of responsiveness of a change in quantity supplied of goods to a change in price
Afran
what is production
Humaira
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor
And what are the resources in land
scor
what is production
Humaira
the proces of using the services of labor and equipmnt together with other in puts to make goods and services availble
Bombey
Okay what is land mobile and land unmobile
scor
Discuss the short-term and long-term balance positions of the firm in the monopoly market?
Rabindranath Reply
hey
Soumya
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Mitiku
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Mitiku
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Soumya
through hard study and performing well than expected from you
Mitiku
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Soumya
prepare first, in psychologically as well as potentially to sacrifice what's expected from you, when I say this I mean that you have to be ready, for every thing and to accept failure as a good and you need to change them to potential for achievement of ur goals
Mitiku
parna kya hai behencho?
Soumya
Hallo
Rabindranath
Hello, dear what's up?
Mitiku
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Momoh
good morning
Isaac
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Isaac
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Afran
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Afran
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OLANIYI
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OLANIYI
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OLANIYI
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OLANIYI
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akinwale
am from Ghana
Jacob
hi
Charles
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akinwale
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OLANIYI
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JOSEPH
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Lerato
okay
Umarou
okay
Umarou
hi
Humaira
hi
Liaqat
what is firms
Anteyi Reply
A firm is a business entity which engages in the production of goods and aimed at making profit.
Avuwada
What is autarky in Economics.
Avuwada
what is choice
Tia Reply
So how is the perfect competition different from others
Rev Reply
what is choice
Tia
please what type of commodity is 1.Beaf 2.Suagr 3.Bread
Alfred Reply
1
Naziru
what is the difference between short run and long run?
Ukpen Reply
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Anna
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Ukpen
pls is question from which subject or which course
Ada
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Ukpen
This place is meant to be for serious educational matters n not playing ground so pls let's make it a serious place.
Docky
Is there an economics expert here?
Docky
Okay and I was being serous
Anna
The short run is a period of time in which the quantity of at least one inputs is fixed...
Anna
that is the answer that I found online and in my text book
Anna
Elacisity
salihu
Meaning of economics
Suraj Reply
It will creates rooms for an effective demands.
Chinedum Reply
different between production and supply
babsnof
Hii
Suraj
hlo
eshita
What is the economic?
Suraj
Economics is a science which study human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which has an alternative use.
Mr
what is supply
babsnof
what is different between demand and supply
Debless Reply
Demand refers to the quantity of products that consumers are willing to purchase at various prices per time while Supply has to do with the quantity of products suppliers are willing to supply at various prices per time. find the difference in between
Saye
what is demand
Humaira
demand is a relationship btn the price of an item and the quantity demanded
Bombey

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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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