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Second, workers who specialize in certain tasks often learn to produce more quickly and with higher quality. This pattern holds true for many workers, including assembly line laborers who build cars, stylists who cut hair, and doctors who perform heart surgery. In fact, specialized workers often know their jobs well enough to suggest innovative ways to do their work faster and better.

A similar pattern often operates within businesses. In many cases, a business that focuses on one or a few products (sometimes called its “ core competency ”) is more successful than firms that try to make a wide range of products.

Third, specialization allows businesses to take advantage of economies of scale    , which means that for many goods, as the level of production increases, the average cost of producing each individual unit declines. For example, if a factory produces only 100 cars per year, each car will be quite expensive to make on average. However, if a factory produces 50,000 cars each year, then it can set up an assembly line with huge machines and workers performing specialized tasks, and the average cost of production per car will be lower. The ultimate result of workers who can focus on their preferences and talents, learn to do their specialized jobs better, and work in larger organizations is that society as a whole can produce and consume far more than if each person tried to produce all of their own goods and services. The division and specialization of labor has been a force against the problem of scarcity.

Trade and markets

Specialization only makes sense, though, if workers can use the pay they receive for doing their jobs to purchase the other goods and services that they need. In short, specialization requires trade.

You do not have to know anything about electronics or sound systems to play music—you just buy an iPod or MP3 player, download the music and listen. You do not have to know anything about artificial fibers or the construction of sewing machines if you need a jacket—you just buy the jacket and wear it. You do not need to know anything about internal combustion engines to operate a car—you just get in and drive. Instead of trying to acquire all the knowledge and skills involved in producing all of the goods and services that you wish to consume, the market allows you to learn a specialized set of skills and then use the pay you receive to buy the goods and services you need or want. This is how our modern society has evolved into a strong economy.

Why study economics?

Now that we have gotten an overview on what economics studies, let’s quickly discuss why you are right to study it. Economics is not primarily a collection of facts to be memorized, though there are plenty of important concepts to be learned. Instead, economics is better thought of as a collection of questions to be answered or puzzles to be worked out. Most important, economics provides the tools to work out those puzzles. If you have yet to be been bitten by the economics “bug,” there are other reasons why you should study economics.

  • Virtually every major problem facing the world today, from global warming, to world poverty, to the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, has an economic dimension. If you are going to be part of solving those problems, you need to be able to understand them. Economics is crucial.
  • It is hard to overstate the importance of economics to good citizenship. You need to be able to vote intelligently on budgets, regulations, and laws in general. When the U.S. government came close to a standstill at the end of 2012 due to the “fiscal cliff,” what were the issues involved? Did you know?
  • A basic understanding of economics makes you a well-rounded thinker. When you read articles about economic issues, you will understand and be able to evaluate the writer’s argument. When you hear classmates, co-workers, or political candidates talking about economics, you will be able to distinguish between common sense and nonsense. You will find new ways of thinking about current events and about personal and business decisions, as well as current events and politics.

The study of economics does not dictate the answers, but it can illuminate the different choices.

Key concepts and summary

Economics seeks to solve the problem of scarcity, which is when human wants for goods and services exceed the available supply. A modern economy displays a division of labor, in which people earn income by specializing in what they produce and then use that income to purchase the products they need or want. The division of labor allows individuals and firms to specialize and to produce more for several reasons: a) It allows the agents to focus on areas of advantage due to natural factors and skill levels; b) It encourages the agents to learn and invent; c) It allows agents to take advantage of economies of scale. Division and specialization of labor only work when individuals can purchase what they do not produce in markets. Learning about economics helps you understand the major problems facing the world today, prepares you to be a good citizen, and helps you become a well-rounded thinker.

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. 2015. "The Employment Situation—February 2015." Accessed March 27, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf.

Williamson, Lisa. “US Labor Market in 2012.” Bureau of Labor Statistics . Accessed December 1, 2013. http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/03/art1full.pdf.

Questions & Answers

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
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Abinash
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ALIM
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sachin
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Maheswar
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Khadak
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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
(1).Income is the main determined of macro economics. (a). true (b). false
Manisha Reply
yes
Anjali
tell me correct ans with examples!!
Manisha
yes
The
what yes yes?
Manisha
mam actually I want to say that income is not the main determinant of macro economics.
The
based on your knowledge about the production possibility frontier,demonstrate an assumption of supposed schedule of ppe for the production of rice and face masks by Bangladesh.use graphical representation as well
Ashraf Reply
hay
Ashraf
hlo
Karan
can you answer this
Ashraf
whats tradeoff
JUSTIN Reply
tradeoff is a balance achieved between two desirable but conflicting things
Faith
can I read in Hindi?
Rashmi Reply
don't know..
Azka
why not
Omid
Omid Amini....how?
Rashmi
sure thing
Faith
mention two necessities of estimation of national income in india ?
Krishna Reply
what means the supply
Abdourahamane Reply
hello
mosisa
hii
SHWETA
hi
Aleem
its means amount of product available right now.
Aleem
is everything important here🙂
Alizy
I mean anything*
Alizy
u can read it
Aleem
it's mean something needed or wanted
Alizy
where are from shweta
Aleem
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Aleem
Hello
Anas
it may mean the stock available
DR
to make something needed or wanted available to someone
Faith
is someone who manufactures something
Faith
What is the cost-benefit analysis?
Hannah Reply
A cost benefit analysis is a process by which organizations can analyze decisions, systems or projects, or determine a value for intangibles. The model is built by identifying the benefits of an action as well as the associated costs and subtracting the costs from benefits.
sanga
thanks!
Hannah
Cost benefit analysis is a process used primarily by businesses that weighs the sum of the benefits, such as financial gain, of an action against the negatives, or costs, of that action.
ALIM
process of cost benefit analysis and decision making crieteria
Santosh
hello everyone
BtsARMY
hello every one,
Dereje
hello everyone
waqar
what is the opportunity cost?
SHWETA
The next best option forgone is call the Opportunity cost of selection one.
Oshadi
which commodity is the best to be consumed by human being
Oriho

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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