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

  • Explain and give examples of positive and negative externalities
  • Identify equilibrium price and quantity
  • Evaluate how firms can contribute to market failure

From 1970 to 2012, the U.S. population increased by one-third and the size of the U.S. economy more than doubled. Since the 1970s, however, the United States, using a variety of anti-pollution policies, has made genuine progress against a number of pollutants. [link] lists the change in carbon dioxide emissions by users of energy (from residential to industrial) according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The table shows that emissions of certain key air pollutants declined substantially from 2007 to 2012; they dropped 730 million metric tons (MMT) a year—a 12% reduction. This seems to indicate that progress has been made in the United States in reducing overall carbon dioxide emissions, which cause greenhouse gases.

(Source: EIA Monthly Energy Review)
U.s. carbon dioxide (co 2 ) emissions from fossil fuels consumed 2007–2012, million metric tons (mmt) per year
Primary Fossil Fuels Purchased Electric Power Total Primary Fossil Fuels
End-use Sector Coal Petroleum Natural Gas
Residential (0) (14) (31) (134) (179)
Commercial (2) (2) (7) (126) (136)
Industrial (40) (62) 31 (118) (191)
Transportation 0 (228) 5 (1) (224)
Power (464) (36) (122) - -
Change 2007–2012 (508) (342) 121 (378) (730)

Despite the gradual reduction in emissions from fossil fuels, many important environmental issues remain. Along with the still high levels of air and water pollution, other issues include hazardous waste disposal, destruction of wetlands and other wildlife habitats, and the impact on human health from pollution.


Private markets , such as the cell phone industry, offer an efficient way to put buyers and sellers together and determine what goods are produced, how they are produced, and who gets them. The principle that voluntary exchange benefits both buyers and sellers is a fundamental building block of the economic way of thinking. But what happens when a voluntary exchange affects a third party who is neither the buyer nor the seller?

As an example, consider a concert producer who wants to build an outdoor arena that will host country music concerts a half-mile from your neighborhood. You will be able to hear these outdoor concerts while sitting on your back porch—or perhaps even in your dining room. In this case, the sellers and buyers of concert tickets may both be quite satisfied with their voluntary exchange, but you have no voice in their market transaction. The effect of a market exchange on a third party who is outside or “external” to the exchange is called an externality    . Because externalities that occur in market transactions affect other parties beyond those involved, they are sometimes called spillovers .

Externalities can be negative or positive. If you hate country music, then having it waft into your house every night would be a negative externality    . If you love country music, then what amounts to a series of free concerts would be a positive externality    .

Questions & Answers

what is per capita income
Kafwimbi Reply
what is GDP of an economy
Gross Domestic Product
Why is scarcity the main problem of economics
Nicholas Reply
Because of unlimited needs and wants demanded by the household
what is GDP deflator?
how to calculate price elasticity demand?
Precious Reply
change in quantity over quantity divided by change in price over price
if the local pizzeria raises the price of a medium pizza from Rd.60to 100 & quantity demanded falls from 700 pizzas a night to 100 pizzas at night , the price elasticity of demand for pizzas is:
Lakshmi Reply
1.2. Measurement of price Elasticity of demand
explain how price and output are determind by a discriminating monopolist
Hiraj Reply
price and output determined through interaction between demand curve and supply curve...
how do I view the graphs
Patricia Reply
how do I open the links
what is the markert
Ester Reply
A market is any place where buying and selling can take place.
20. Why is a football game on ESPN a quasi-public good but a game on the NBC, CBS, or ABC is a public good?
Brigam Reply
how people make decision?
Xafsa Reply
what is supply and demand
Xafsa Reply
Demand refers to how much (quantity) of a product or service is desired by buyers. The quantity demanded is the amount of a product people are willing to buy at a certain price.
thank you very much
list and briefly explain the three principles that describe how the economy as whole works?
what is algebra?
ibiflower Reply
what is the relationship between price and demand
Evans Reply
the relation ship between price and demand is the income and Utility means when you are satisfied and you can buy it then you have to demand it.Thanks
who thought u that? you are not answering this as an economist
alright, but can you tell how the economist will be answered
alright, but can you tell me how the economist will be answered
Law of demanded  states: As price  of a good increases, the quantity demanded  of the good falls, and as the price  of a good decreases, the quantity demanded of the good rises.
So, there is an inverse relationship between price and demand.
lewis answered it perfectly
I want for market value for price. or cleance
time ticket of value market down so double be self 1.09 but I 10 chesse for 1.09 bugger
Without scarcity there would be no subject call Economics. Explain why?
because economics is the study of scarcity of resources and the satisfaction of basic human need
give an example of some action that has both amonetary and nonmonetary apportunity cost?
Aisha Reply
any action can be argued to have both. For instance, being in class has the opportunity cost of time you could be spent earning wages, or time that could've been spent leisurely.
there is no any action that hasn't both a monetary and non-monetary as said Mr Dasrat
u Welcome
describe an important trade-off you recently faced?
Aisha Reply
Financial issues and careerPersonal life and work lifeMost people don't like the work they do. The interest they have is something different from the work they do and eventually forgo their interest. These are the three most important tradeoffs I have come across, yet there may be many in number.
Yah still
why people make the choices they make and how economist go about explaining those choices
Asim Reply
what is tradeoffs
giving up one thing to have another

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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