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# Elasticity

## Effects of government policy on

demand and supply

## What will we discuss?

The price elasticity of demand
its meaning, determinants and calculation
its relationship with total revenue
The meaning and calculation of other elasticities
income elasticity of demand, cross-price elasticity of

## Applications of elasticity analysis:

Can good news for farming be bad news for farmers?

## The effects government policies on demand and

supply:
Price ceiling, Price floor, Taxes
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Elasticity

## What is the price elasticity of

demand?
Price elasticity of demand is the percentage

## change in quantity demanded, resulting

from a one per cent change in the price.
Suppose the price elasticity of demand for eggs =

## What determines it?

Availability of close substitutes: e.g., salt vs. Mars

bar
Necessity vs. luxuries: emergency doctor visits vs.
overseas holidays
Definition of the market: food vs. ice cream
Time horizon: quantity demanded changes less in
a week than over a few years

(
Q

Q
)
/
[
(
Q

Q
)
/
2
]
2
1
2
1
P
r
ic
e
E
la
s
t
ic
y
o
fD
e
m
a
n
d
=
P
P
Example: If the price of an ice cream cone increases from \$2.00
to \$2.20 and the amount you buy falls from 10 to 8 cones, then
your elasticity of demand would be calculated as:

(8 10)
22 percent
(8 10) / 2

2.3
(2.20 2.00)
9.5 percent
(2.00 2.20) / 2
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Ranges of elasticity
In terms of absolute values
E=0, perfectly inelastic
E>1, elastic
E=1, unit elastic
E<1 inelastic
E=
, perfectly elastic

Inelastic demand

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Elastic demand

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12

groups

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## Elasticity and total revenue

If demand is elastic, an increase in the price

Why?

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Price

Price

\$5
\$4
Demand

Demand
Revenue = \$200

50

Quantity

Revenue = \$100

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Quantity

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## Elasticity and total revenue

If demand is inelastic, an increase in the price

Why?

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demand

Price

Price

\$3
Revenue = \$240
\$1
0

Revenue = \$100

Demand
100

Quantity 0

Demand
80

Quantity
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## Income elasticity of demand

Income elasticity of demand measures how

## much the quantity demanded of a good

responds to a change in consumers income.
Income elasticity is
positive for normal goods; e.g., holidays
negative for inferior goods; e.g., second hand

furniture
Income Elasticity of Demand =

Percentage Change in
Quantity Demanded
Percentage Change
in Income

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Groups 2003

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## Cross-price elasticity of demand

Measures how the quantity demanded of one

## good changes as the price of another good

changes.
It is
positive for substitutes: pumpkins and butternut
negative for complements: movies and pop corn
Percentage Change in
Quantity Demanded of good 1
Cross - price Elasticity of Demand
Percentage Change
in price of good 2

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## Price elasticity of supply

Price elasticity of supply is the percentage

## change in quantity supplied resulting from a 1

percent change in price.
Percentage Change in
Quantity Supplied
Elasticity of Supply =
Percentage Change
in Price

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## Factors affecting price elasticity of

supply
Sellers flexibility to change
The supply of beachfront housing vs. the supply of ice-

cream

## Time period under consideration

In general, supply is more elastic in the long run than in

## the short run

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Application of elasticity
People buy greeting cards and roses throughout

## the year. As Valentines Day approaches,

however, cards and roses become necessities. The
demand for both products jump and we expect
the prices of both products to jump. The price of
roses, however, always increases more sharply
than the price of greeting cards. Why?

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Application of elasticity
Can good news for farming be bad news for

farmers?
What happens to wheat farmers and the market

## for wheat if scientists discover a new wheat

hybrid that is more productive than existing
varieties?

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## A simple approach to the question

Examine how the event affects demand

and/or supply
Use the supply-and-demand diagram to see
how the market equilibrium changes.

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Price of
wheat

## 1 When demand is inelastic,

an increase in supply...
S1
S2

2 ...leads \$3
to a large
fall in
2
price...

Demand
0

## 100 110 Quantity of wheat

3 ...and a proportionately smaller
increase in quantity sold. As a result,
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revenue falls from \$300 to \$220.

Question
Should farmers welcome new technologies?

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## Effects of government policy on

demand and supply

Price ceiling
A price ceiling is a legally established

## maximum price at which a good can be sold

A price ceiling is binding (effective) only if it is

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## How to deal with shortages?

Non-market rationing
First come, first served: queuing for goods
Seller discrimination: reserve goods for friends,

preferred customers
Government ration: e.g., bureaucratic discretion on
priorities; coupons
Evading the price control: black market

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## Example: Rent control

What happens in the short run? What

## happens in the long run?

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Price floor
A price floor is a legally established minimum

## price at which a good can be sold

A price floor is binding (effective) only if it is
set above the equilibrium price.

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## A price floor that is binding

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Taxes
Governments levy taxes to fund their

operations.
Taxes result in changes in the market
equilibrium price and quantity.
Taxes on buyers (e.g. GST) and taxes on
sellers (e.g. excise tax) are equivalent.

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Price of
ice-cream
cone
Price
buyers
pay
\$3.30
Price
3.00
2.80
without
tax

Equilibrium
with tax
S

Tax (\$0.50)

Price
sellers
receive

90 100

Quantity of
ice-cream cones

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## Tax Incidence and Elasticity

How is the burden of the tax divided between

## buyers and seller?

It depends on the elasticity of demand and the

elasticity of supply.

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## Impact of taxes: summary

In general, taxes discourage any activity that

is taxed.
A taxes on buyers or sellers of a good result in
buyers paying a higher price
Sellers receiving a lower price
The quantity of the good sold is smaller.

## of the market that is less elastic.

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References
Gans, J., King, S., Stonecash, R., Byford, M., Libich, J. &

## Mankiw, N. G. (2015). Principles of Economics (6th ed.):

Gengage Learning. Chapters 5, 6.

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