Chapter Four Demand
The Law of Demand • When a good’s price is lower, consumers will buy more of it. When the price is higher, consumers will buy less of it. • Whether your income is $10.00 or $10 million, the price of a good will strongly influence your decision to buy. • The law of demand is the result of not one pattern of behavior, but of two separate patterns that overlap. • Substitution Effect • Income Effect
The Substitution Effect • Takes place when a consumer reacts to a rise in the price of one good by consuming less of that good and more of a substitute good. • The substitution effect can also apply to a drop in prices. • Price of pizza drops • Pizza becomes cheaper compared to other alternatives. • Consumers will now substitute pizza for tacos, salads, and other choices • Result: The quantity of pizza demanded to rise.
The Income Effect • Prices rise, so.. • Your limited budget won’t buy as much as it used to. • You can no longer afford to buy the same combination of goods, and you must cut back your purchases of some goods. • If you buy fewer slices of pizza without increasing your purchases of other foods, that is the income effect. • Economists measure consumption in the amount of a good that is bought. • The income effect also operates when the price is lowered. • Pizza prices fall, you feel wealthier, you buy more pizza.
Demand Schedule • The law of demand explains how the price of any item affects the quantity demanded of that item. • To have demand for a good, you must be willing and able to buy it at the specified price. • A demand schedule is a table that lists the quantity of a good that a person will purchase at each price in a market.
Demand Schedule • When you add up the demand schedules of every buyer in the market, you can create a market demand schedule. • Shows the quantities demanded at each price by all consumers in the market. • Market Demand Schedules lists larger quantities demanded.
The Demand Graph • A demand curve is a graphic representation of a demand schedule. • A demand curve occurs when economists transfer numbers from a demand schedule to a graph. • Vertical axis – Lowest prices at the bottom and highest at the top. • Horizontal axis – Lowest quantity at the left and highest quantity at the right. • Biggest fault of demand curves is they are set for a specific set of market conditions.
Changes in Demand • A demand curve is accurate only as long as there are no changes other than price that could affect the consumer’s decision. • When we drop the ceteris paribus rule and allow other factors to change, we no longer move along the demand curve. • Instead, the entire demand curve shifts. • This shift of the entire curve is what economists refer to as a change in demand.
What Causes a Shift? • Income • Normal goods – “What I Want” • Inferior goods – “What I Can Afford” • Consumer Expectations • The current demand for a good is positively related to its expected future price. • Future price higher = higher demand to buy now • Future price lower = lower demand to buy now • Population • Changes in the size of the population will also affect the demand for most products. • Consumer Tastes and Advertising
Prices of Related Goods • The demand curve for one good can be affected by a change in the demand for another good. • Complements (Skis and Ski Boots) • Substitutes (Skis and Snowboards)
Elasticity of Demand • Dictates how drastically buyers will cut back or increase their demand for a good when the price rises or falls. • Your demand for a good that you will keep buying despite a price increase is inelastic, or relatively unresponsive to price changes. • When you buy much less of a good after a small price increase, your demand is elastic. • A consumer with highly elastic demand for a good is very responsive to price changes.
Calculating Elasticity • To compute elasticity of demand, take the percentage change in the demand of a good, and divide this number by the percentage change in the price of the good. • The law of demand implies that the result will always be negative. • Increase in price = decrease in quantity demanded • Decrease in price = increase in quantity demanded
Calculating Elasticity • Price Range • Elasticity of demand for a good varies at every price level. • Demand for a good can be highly elastic at one price and inelastic at a different price. • Values of Elasticity • If the elasticity of demand for a good at a certain price is less than 1, we describe demand as inelastic • If the elasticity is greater than one, demand is elastic. • If elasticity is exactly equal to 1, we describe demand as unitary elastic.
Factors Affecting Elasticity • Availability of Substitutes • If there are few substitutes for a good, then even when its price rises greatly, you might still buy it. • You feel that you have no good alternative. • If the lack of substitutes can make demand inelastic, a wide choice of substitute goods can make demand elastic.
Factors Affecting Elasticity • Relative Importance • How much of your budget you spend on a good. • The higher the jump in price, the m ore you will have to adjust your purchases. • If the quantity of clothes you purchase drops, then your demand will be elastic. • Even if the price of shoelaces doubled, you will still purchase them, demand is therefore inelastic.
Factors Affecting Elasticity • Necessities versus Luxuries • What a person considers to be a necessity or a luxury has a great impact on the good’s elasticity of demand for that person. • A necessity is a good people will always buy, even when the price increases. • Milk – demand is inelastic • Steak – demand is elastic
Factors Affecting Elasticity • Change over Time • Consumers do not always react quickly to a price increase because it takes time to find substitutes. • Demand – Inelastic in short term • Demand – Elastic in long term • Gas Prices • Initially – difficult to change (Commute, car, etc.) • Later – May move closer to work, buy a more fuel efficient car, etc.
Elasticity and Revenue • The elasticity of demand determines how a change in prices will affect a firm’s total revenue or income. • Total Revenue = Price of goods and the Quantity Sold • Elastic demand comes from one or more of these factors: • Availability of Substitute Goods • Limited Budget (Doesn’t allow for price change) • Perception of a Good as a Luxury Item • If these conditions are present, then the demand for the good is elastic, and a firm may find that a price increase reduces its total revenue.
Revenue and Inelastic Demand • If demand is inelastic, consumers’ demand is not very responsive to price change. • The higher price for a good makes up for the firm’s lower sales, and the firm brings in more money. • On the other hand, a decrease in price will lead to an increase in the quantity demanded if demand is inelastic.