# Elasticity and its Application

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1 eventh Edition rinciples of Economics N. Gregory Mankiw CHATER 5 Elasticity and its Application Modified by Joseph Tao-yi Wang Wojciech Gerson ( ) In this chapter, look for the answers to these questions What is elasticity? What kinds of issues can elasticity help us understand? What is the price elasticity? How is it related to the demand curve? How is it related to revenue & expenditure? What is the price elasticity? How is it related to the supply curve? What are the income and cross-price elasticities? A scenario You design websites for local businesses. You charge \$2,000 per website, and currently sell 12 websites per month. Your costs are rising (including the opportunity cost of your time), so you consider raising the price to \$2,500. The law says that you won t sell as many websites if you raise your price. How many fewer websites? How much will your revenue fall, or might it increase? Elasticity Basic idea: Elasticity measures how much one variable responds to changes in another variable. One type of elasticity measures how much demand for your websites will fall if you raise your price. efinition: Elasticityis a numerical measure of the responsiveness of d or s to one of its determinants. 2 3 rice Elasticity of emand rice elasticity ercentage change in d ercentage change in rice Elasticity of emand rice elasticity ercentage change in d ercentage change in rice elasticity measures how much d responds to a change in. Loosely speaking, it measures the pricesensitivity of buyers demand. Example: rice elasticity equals 15% 10% 1.5 rises 2 1 falls by 15%

2 rice Elasticity of emand rice elasticity Along a curve, and move in opposite directions, which would make price elasticity negative. We will drop the minus sign and report all price elasticitiesas positive numbers. ercentage change in d ercentage change in Calculating ercentage Changes \$2500 \$2000 emandfor your websites 8 B 12 A tandard method of computing the percentage (%) change: end value start value start value x 100% Going from A to B, the % change in equals (\$2,500 \$2,000)/\$2,000 25% 6 7 Calculating ercentage Changes \$2500 \$2000 emandfor your websites 8 B 12 A roblem: The standard method gives different answers depending on where you start. From A to B, rises 25%, falls 33%, elasticity 33/ From B to A, falls 20%, rises 50%, elasticity 50/ Calculating ercentage Changes o, we instead use the midpoint method: end value start value midpoint x 100% The midpoint is the number halfway between the start and end values, the average of those values. It doesn t matter which value you use as the start and which as the end you get the same answer either way! 8 9 Calculating ercentage Changes Using the midpoint method, the % change in equals \$2,500 \$2,000 \$2250 The % change in equals x 100% 22.2% x 100% 40.0% The price elasticity equals 40/ ACTIVE LEARNING 1 Calculate an elasticity Use the following information to calculate the price elasticity for hotel rooms: if \$4,500, d 8600 if \$5,500, d 7400 stefanolunardi/hutterstock.com 10 2

3 ACTIVE LEARNING 1 Applying the principles Use midpoint method to calculate % change in d ( )/ % % change in (\$5,500 \$4,500)/\$5,000 20% The price elasticity equals What determines price elasticity? To learn the determinants of price elasticity, we look at a series of examples. Each compares two common goods. In each example: uppose the prices of both goods rise by 20%. The good for which d falls the most (in percent) has the highest price elasticity. Which good is it? Why? 15% 20% 0.75 What lesson does the example teach us about the determinants of the price elasticity? 13 EXAMLE 1 amsung 6 Edge vs. ihone 6 The prices of both of these goods rise by 20%. For which good does d drop the most? Why? amsung 6 Edge has close substitutes (LG G4, HTC One M9+, Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, etc.), so buyers can easily switch if the price rises. ihone 6 has no close substitutes, so a price increase would not affect demand very much. Lesson: rice elasticity is higher when close substitutes are available. EXAMLE 2 Blue Jeans vs. Clothing The prices of both goods rise by 20%. For which good does d drop the most? Why? For a narrowly defined good such as blue jeans, there are many substitutes (khakis, shorts, peedos). There are fewer substitutes available for broadly defined goods. (Are there any substitutes for clothing?) Lesson: rice elasticity is higher for narrowly defined goods than for broadly defined ones EXAMLE 3 Insulin vs. Caribbean Cruises The prices of both of these goods rise by 20%. For which good does d drop the most? Why? To millions of diabetics, insulin is a necessity. A rise in its price would cause little or no decrease in demand. A cruise is a luxury. If the price rises, some people will forego it. Lesson: rice elasticity is higher for luxuries than for necessities. EXAMLE 4 Gasoline in the hort Run vs. Gasoline in the Long Run The price of gasoline rises 20%. oes d drop more in the short run or the long run? Why? There s not much people can do in the short run, other than ride the bus or carpool. In the long run, people can buy smaller cars or live closer to work. Lesson: rice elasticity is higher in the long run than the short run

4 The eterminants of rice A ummary The price elasticity depends on: the extent to which close substitutes are available whether the good is a necessity or a luxury how broadly or narrowly the good is defined the time horizon elasticity is higher in the long run than the short run The Variety of emand Curves The price elasticity is closely related to the slope of the demand curve. Rule of thumb: The flatter the curve, the bigger the elasticity. The steeper the curve, the smaller the elasticity. Five different classifications of curves erfectly inelastic demand (one extreme case) rice elasticity % change in % change in 0% 10% 0 Inelastic demand rice elasticity % change in % change in < 10% 10% < 1 curve: vertical curve: relatively steep Consumers none 0 falls changes by 0% 20 Consumers relatively low < 1 falls rises less than 10% 21 Unit elastic demand rice elasticity % change in % change in 10% 10% 1 Elastic demand rice elasticity % change in % change in > 10% 10% > 1 curve: intermediate slope curve: relatively flat Consumers intermediate 1 2 Consumers relatively high falls 1 2 rises 22 > 1 falls 1 2 rises more than 10% 23 4

5 erfectly elastic demand (the other extreme) rice elasticity curve: horizontal Consumers extreme infinity 2 changes by 0% 1 % change in % change in any % 0% infinity 1 2 changes by any % 24 A few elasticities from the real world Eggs 0.1 Healthcare 0.2 Rice 0.5 Housing 0.7 Beef 1.6 Restaurant meals 2.3 Mountain ew elected rice Elasticity (from Wiki) Rice [48] (Austria) (Bangladesh) (China) (Japan) (U) Eggs -0.1 (U: Household only), [54] (Canada), [55] (outh Africa) [56] Livestock -0.5 to -0.6 (Broiler Chickens) [44] elected rice Elasticity (from Wiki) oft drinks -0.8 to -1.0 (general) [51] -3.8 (Coca-Cola) [52] -4.4 (Mountain ew) [52] Alcoholic beverages (U) [42] -0.3 or -0.7 to -0.9 as of 1972 (Beer) -1.0 (Wine) -1.5 (pirits) Cigarettes (U) [41] -0.3 to -0.6 (General) -0.6 to -0.7 (Youth) elected rice Elasticity (from Wiki) Transport (Bus travel U) [46] (Ford compact automobile) [50] Airline travel (U) [43] -0.3 (First Class) -0.9 (iscount) -1.5 (for leasure Travelers) elected rice Elasticity (from Wiki) Medicine (U) (Medical insurance) [46] -.03 to -.06 (ediatricvisits) [47] Cinema visits (U) (General) [46] Live erforming Arts (Theater, etc.) -0.4 to -0.9 [49] Car fuel [45] (hort run) (Long run) Oil (World) -0.4 teel -0.2 to -0.3 [53] 5

6 Elasticity of a Linear emand Curve rice Elasticity and Total Revenue \$ E 200% 40% 5.0 E \$ % 67% 1.0 E 40% 200% 0.2 The slope of a linear demand curve is constant, but its elasticity is not. Continuing our scenario, if you raise your price from \$2,000 to \$2,500, would your revenue rise or fall? Revenue x A price increase has two effects on revenue: Higher means more revenue on each unit you sell. But you sell fewer units (lower ), due to law. Which of these two effects is bigger? It depends on the price elasticity rice Elasticity and Total Revenue rice elasticity Revenue x If demand is elastic, then price elast. > 1 % change in > % change in The fall in revenue from lower is greater than the increase in revenue from higher, so revenue falls. ercentage change in ercentage change in 32 rice Elasticity and Total Revenue Elastic demand (elasticity 1.8) If \$2,000, 12 and revenue \$24,000. If \$2,500, 8 and revenue \$20,000. When is elastic, a price increase causes revenue to fall. \$2500 \$2000 increased emandfor revenue due your websiteslost to higher revenue due to lower rice Elasticity and Total Revenue rice elasticity Revenue x If demand is inelastic, then price elast. < 1 % change in < % change in The fall in revenue from lower is smaller than the increase in revenue from higher, so revenue rises. In our example, suppose that only falls to 10 (instead of 8) when you raise your price to \$2,500. ercentage change in ercentage change in 34 rice Elasticity and Total Revenue Now, demand is inelastic: elasticity 0.82 If \$2,000, 12 and revenue \$24,000. \$2500 If \$2,500, 10 and revenue \$25,000. \$2000 When is inelastic, a price increase causes revenue to rise. increased emandfor revenue your websites due to higher lost revenue due to lower

7 ACTIVE LEARNING 2 Elasticity and expenditure/revenue A. harmacies raise the price of insulin. oes total expenditure on insulin rise or fall? B. As a result of a fare war, the price of a luxury cruise falls 20%. oes luxury cruise companies total revenue rise or fall? ACTIVE LEARNING 1 Answers A. harmacies raise the price of insulin. oes total expenditure on insulin rise or fall? Expenditure x ince demand is inelastic, will fall less than 10%, so expenditure rises. ACTIVE LEARNING 2 Answers B. As a result of a fare war, the price of a luxury cruise falls 20%. oes luxury cruise companies total revenue rise or fall? Revenue x The fall in reduces revenue, but increases, which increases revenue. Which effect is bigger? ince demand is elastic, will increase more than 20%, so revenue rises. ALICATION: oes rug Interdiction Increase or ecrease rug-related Crime? One side effect of illegal drug use is crime: Users often turn to crime to finance their habit. We examine two policies designed to reduce illegal drug use and see what effects they have on drug-related crime. For simplicity, we assume the total dollar value of drug-related crime equals total expenditure on drugs. emand for illegal drugs is inelastic, due to addiction issues. 39 olicy 1: Interdiction Interdiction reduces the supply of drugs. ince demand for drugs is inelastic, rises proportionally more than falls. rice of rugs 2 1 Result: an increase in total spending on drugs, and in drug-related crime new value of drugrelated crime initial value of drugrelated crime uantity of rugs 40 olicy 2: Education Education reduces the demand for drugs. and fall. Result: A decrease in total spending on drugs, and in drug-related crime. rice of rugs 1 2 new value of drugrelated crime initial value of drugrelated crime uantity of rugs 41 7

8 rice Elasticity of upply rice elasticity ercentage change in s ercentage change in rice Elasticity of upply rice elasticity ercentage change in s ercentage change in rice elasticity measures how much s responds to a change in. Loosely speaking, it measures sellers price-sensitivity. Again, use the midpoint method to compute the percentage changes. Example: rice elasticity equals 16% 8% 2.0 rises by 8% 2 1 rises by 16% The Variety of upply Curves The slope of the supply curve is closely related to price elasticity. Rule of thumb: The flatter the curve, the bigger the elasticity. The steeper the curve, the smaller the elasticity. Five different classifications erfectly inelastic (ex: land),inelastic (ex: housing), unit elastic, elastic (ex: tutoring), perfectly elastic (ex: dumping inventory) The eterminants of upply Elasticity The more easily sellers can change the quantity they produce, the greater the price elasticity of supply. Example: upply of beachfront property is harder to vary and thus less elastic than supply of new cars. For many goods, price elasticity is greater in the long run than in the short run, because firms can build new factories, or new firms may be able to enter the market ACTIVE LEARNING 3 Elasticity and changes in equilibrium The supply of beachfront property is inelastic. The supply of new cars is elastic. uppose population growth causes demand for both goods to double (at each price, d doubles). For which product will change the most? For which product will change the most? ACTIVE LEARNING 3 Answers When supply is inelastic, an increase in demand has a bigger impact on price than on quantity Beachfront property (inelastic supply): 2 A B 1 2 8

9 ACTIVE LEARNING 3 Answers How the rice Elasticity of upply Can Vary When supply is elastic, an increase in demand has a bigger impact on quantity than on price New cars (elastic supply): A 1 B 2 \$15 4 \$3 12 elasticity > elasticity < upply often becomes less elastic as rises, due to capacity limits. 49 Other Elasticities Income elasticity : measures the response of d to a change in consumer income Income elasticity ercent change in d ercent change in income Recall from Chapter 4: An increase in income causes an increase in demand for a normalgood. Hence, for normal goods, income elasticity > 0. For inferiorgoods, income elasticity < Other Elasticities Cross-price elasticity : measures the response for one good to changes in the price of another good Cross-price elast. % change in d for good 1 % change in price of good 2 For substitutes, cross-price elasticity > 0 (e.g., an increase in price of beef causes an increase in demand for chicken) For complements, cross-price elasticity < 0 (e.g., an increase in price of computers causes decrease in demand for software) 51 Cross-rice Elasticities in the News As Gas Costs oar, Buyers Flock to mall Cars -New York Times, 5/2/2008 Gas rices rive tudents to Online Courses -Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/8/2008 Gas prices knock bicycle sales, repairs into higher gear -Associated ress, 5/11/2008 Camel demand soars in India (as a substitute for gas-guzzling tractors ) -Financial Times, 5/2/2008 High gas prices drive farmer to switch to mules -Associated ress, 5/21/2008 ummary Elasticity measures the responsiveness of d or s to one of its determinants. rice elasticity equals percentage change in d divided by percentage change in. When it s less than one, demand is inelastic. When greater than one, demand is elastic. When demand is inelastic, total revenue rises when price rises. When demand is elastic, total revenue falls when price rises. 52 9

10 ummary emand is less elastic in the short run, for necessities, for broadly defined goods, and for goods with few close substitutes. rice elasticity equals percentage change in s divided by percentage change in. When it s less than one, supply is inelastic. When greater than one, supply is elastic. rice elasticity is greater in the long run than in the short run. ummary The income elasticity measures how much quantity demanded responds to changes in buyers incomes. The cross-price elasticity measures how much demand for one good responds to changes in the price of another good. Elasticity rice Elasticity Income Elasticity Cross rice Elasticity erfectly inelastic (one extreme) rice elasticity curve: vertical % change in % change in 0% 10% 0 Homework: Mankiw, Ch. 5, roblem 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 ellers none rises 1 changes by 0% 57 Inelastic rice elasticity % change in % change in < 10% 10% < 1 Unit elastic rice elasticity % change in % change in 10% 10% 1 curve: relatively steep curve: intermediate slope ellers relatively low 2 1 ellers intermediate 2 1 < 1 rises 1 2 rises less than 10% 58 1 rises 1 2 rises 59 10

11 Elastic rice elasticity % change in % change in > 10% 10% > 1 erfectly elastic (the other extreme) rice elasticity % change in % change in any % 0% infinity curve: relatively flat ellers relatively high 2 1 curve: horizontal ellers extreme 2 1 > 1 rises 1 2 rises more than 10% 60 infinity changes by 0% 1 2 changes by any % 61 11

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