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Lecture 2

ECON 101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Sunk Costs, Marginal Cost, Marginal UtilityPremium

3 pages110 viewsWinter 2015

Course Code
ECON 101
Marina Adshade

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Jan. 09th, 2015
ECON 101 - Lecture #2 - Opportunity Cost and Marginal Benefit
Marginal Benefit
Rational people only make choices when the benefit exceeds the cost
We apply the cost-benefit rule, we need a single metric that can be used to measure
both costs and benefits
That metric is money
Economists usually try to measure all the costs and benefits of a particular course of
action in monetary terms, so
B(x) is the benefit of activity x measured in dollars
C(x) is the cost of activity x measured in dollars
Example 1
How much are you willing to pay for 30 minutes of reduction in commute?
○ $0
More than $0 but less than $40
More than $40 but less than $100
More than $100 but less than $200
More than $200
To measure the value of the reduction of 30 minutes in commute, calculate the average
of each choice: choice a is $0, choice b $20, choice c $70, choice d is $150, and choice
e is $200
Multiply the average by the number of people who chose it
Add the results of all five choices together, divide the sum by the total number of
Purpose of the example: showing that there is always a way to quantify an action
Opportunity Cost
The opportunity cost of an action is the value of the next best option that could have
been pursued with the available resources
Remark: Opportunity cost always refers to an action
For example, it is correct to ask” What is the opportunity cost of buying a book?”,
but incorrect to ask “What is the opportunity cost of a book?”
Opportunity cost is one of the most useful concepts in economics
Important: Calculate the net benefit of the next best choice (not just the benefit!)
Identifying and measuring opportunity costs is sometimes difficult, but ignoring them
often leads to incorrect conclusions and poor decisions
Example 2
Imagine that you currently subscribe to The Economist magazine, paying $120 annually.
Furthermore, imagine that the most would be willing to pay for the annual subscription is
$250. If magazine were to close down, how much worse off would you be? (You are at
the beginning of a new year, and you have not paid the $120 yet.)
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