|Economics Basics||Opportunity cost|
What Is Economics
Macro and Microeconomics
Production Possibility Frontier (PPF)
Specialization and Comparative Advantage
Demand and Supply
The Law of Demand
The Law of Supply
Time and Supply
Supply and Demand Relationship
F. Shifts vs. Movement
The availability of substitutes
Income available to spend on the good
Income Elasticity of Demand
Opportunity cost is the value of what is foregone in order to have something else. This value is unique for each individual. You may, for instance, forgo ice cream in order to have an extra helping of mashed potatoes. For you, the mashed
potatoes have a greater value than dessert. But you can always change your mind in the future because there may be some instances when the mashed potatoes are just not as attractive as the ice cream. The opportunity cost of an individual's decisions, therefore, is determined by his or her needs, wants, time and resources (income).
This is important to the PPF because a country will decide how to best allocate its resources according to its opportunity cost. Therefore, the previous wine/cotton example shows that if the country chooses to produce more wine
than cotton, the opportunity cost is equivalent to the cost of giving up the required cotton production.
Let's look at another example to demonstrate how opportunity cost ensures that an individual will buy the least expensive of two similar goods when given the choice. For example, assume that an individual has a choice between two telephone services. If he or she were to buy the most expensive service, that individual may have to reduce the number of times he or she goes to the movies each month. Giving up these opportunities to go to the movies may be a cost that
is too high for this person, leading him or her to choose the less expensive service.
Remember that opportunity cost is different for each individual and nation. Thus, what is valued more than something else will vary among people and countries when decisions are made about how to allocate resources.
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