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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Analyze how price elasticities impact revenue
  • Evaluate how elasticity can cause shifts in demand and supply
  • Predict how the long-run and short-run impacts of elasticity affect equilibrium
  • Explain how the elasticity of demand and supply determine the incidence of a tax on buyers and sellers

Studying elasticities is useful for a number of reasons, pricing being most important. Let’s explore how elasticity relates to revenue and pricing, both in the long run and short run. But first, let’s look at the elasticities of some common goods and services.

[link] shows a selection of demand elasticities for different goods and services drawn from a variety of different studies by economists, listed in order of increasing elasticity.

Some Selected Elasticities of Demand
Goods and Services Elasticity of Price
Housing 0.12
Transatlantic air travel (economy class) 0.12
Rail transit (rush hour) 0.15
Electricity 0.20
Taxi cabs 0.22
Gasoline 0.35
Transatlantic air travel (first class) 0.40
Wine 0.55
Beef 0.59
Transatlantic air travel (business class) 0.62
Kitchen and household appliances 0.63
Cable TV (basic rural) 0.69
Chicken 0.64
Soft drinks 0.70
Beer 0.80
New vehicle 0.87
Rail transit (off-peak) 1.00
Computer 1.44
Cable TV (basic urban) 1.51
Cable TV (premium) 1.77
Restaurant meals 2.27

Note that necessities such as housing and electricity are inelastic, while items that are not necessities such as restaurant meals are more price-sensitive. If the price of the restaurant meal increases by 10%, the quantity demanded will decrease by 22.7%. A 10% increase in the price of housing will cause a slight decrease of 1.2% in the quantity of housing demanded.

Read this article for an example of price elasticity that may have affected you.

Does raising price bring in more revenue?

Imagine that a band on tour is playing in an indoor arena with 15,000 seats. To keep this example simple, assume that the band keeps all the money from ticket sales. Assume further that the band pays the costs for its appearance, but that these costs, like travel, setting up the stage, and so on, are the same regardless of how many people are in the audience. Finally, assume that all the tickets have the same price. (The same insights apply if ticket prices are more expensive for some seats than for others, but the calculations become more complicated.) The band knows that it faces a downward-sloping demand curve; that is, if the band raises the price of tickets, it will sell fewer tickets. How should the band set the price for tickets to bring in the most total revenue, which in this example, because costs are fixed, will also mean the highest profits for the band? Should the band sell more tickets at a lower price or fewer tickets at a higher price?

The key concept in thinking about collecting the most revenue is the price elasticity of demand. Total revenue is price times the quantity of tickets sold. Imagine that the band starts off thinking about a certain price, which will result in the sale of a certain quantity of tickets. The three possibilities are laid out in [link] . If demand is elastic at that price level, then the band should cut the price, because the percentage drop in price will result in an even larger percentage increase in the quantity sold—thus raising total revenue. However, if demand is inelastic at that original quantity level, then the band should raise the price of tickets, because a certain percentage increase in price will result in a smaller percentage decrease in the quantity sold—and total revenue will rise. If demand has a unitary elasticity at that quantity, then a moderate percentage change in the price will be offset by an equal percentage change in quantity—so the band will earn the same revenue whether it (moderately) increases or decreases the price of tickets.

Questions & Answers

what is the effect of inflation in GDP
ahmed Reply
Not only real GDP but also nominal GDP will decrease
Aqib
yep. Inflation has an influence not only GDP but interest rate also.
Hamza
The pound weakens so imports become more expensive and exports lose value - lower GDP.
Rebecca
why do inflation effect economic
Chelsea Reply
explain in detail what is economic what is scarcity what is alternate uses
Ejiro Reply
What is law of demand
Hilary
economic as a science refers to study of human resource
Kaunda
Law of demand- With all the factors remaining same if price increases of a commodity, the quantity of demand of that commodity decreases and vice versa
Dey
Thanks dey sunita
Hilary
What is law of supply
Hilary
what are the factors that affect demand
Elly Reply
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
Elly
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
Elly
what are the factors that affect demand of a commodity
Elly
1. the price of the product 2. the price of other products 3. consumers income 4. expectation of future changes in price 5. taste and preference etc.
ALI
Change in price
Hilary
1. price related of commodities 2. consumers income 3. the condition or season of the commodities
Tsai
decrease in demand of substitute increase in demand of constituent change in quantity and other environmental factors
Hamza
Nd consumer's income
Hamza
what course scarcity
Bashari Reply
Scarcity is the limited availability of a commodity, which may be in demand in the market or by the commons. Scarcity also includes an individual's lack of resources to buy commodities. The opposite of scarcity is abundance.
Marc
Reasons that explain why the division of labor increases an economy's level of production
Chukwuka Reply
Please I don't understand the meaning and the concept of economics as a science
Ophelia Reply
economics as a science refers to the study of human behavior. how they make decisions etc
Saidou
economics is science because it uses scientific methods in analysing societal problems.. observation experimentation and conclusion inherently are used to analyse. however it is not pure science but social science because it studies human and it's environs
Bonney
what's elasticity of demand
Isaac Reply
are u asking because you don't know or what
Stephen
A measure of the responsiveness of a product demanded to a change in market price
Yuusuf
the degree of responsiveness of a product demanded to a little change in the price
Saidou
the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to the changes in the price if the commodity in question, changes in the price of other related commodities and changes in the income of consumer
Bonney
what is international trade
Kwame Reply
international trade is a trade between foreign country
IYke
it is the exchange of goods and services between countries
Bonney
it's the exchange of goods and services from one foreign country to another
Israel
how is demand run
Ogonna Reply
what s the causes of poverty for human being
Femi Reply
lack of knowledge and resources
Asrat
it is lack of inclusive political and economic institutions in that country given a strong central government.
tesfaye
luck of economics
Donkor
poverty is due to poor system of taxation
Hamza
progressive system of taxation can reduce poverty
Hamza
lack of knowledge
IYke
Isn't it poor system of taxation that causes poverty
Chukwuka
How is a monopoly market different from an oligopoly one?
Antony Reply
Qn.5.a)explain four ways on how elasticity of demand determines the incidence of tax b)design five mechanisms that can be uxed to reduc the gvt expendture in develping countriex lik tz
ALLY
l dont know can l have brief notes
Hilda
What is anatomy and physiology
emeka Reply
Important of monopoly
Daniel Reply
Importance of monopoly
Ibrahim Reply

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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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