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Economics, Scarcity, and Choice

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Economics, Scarcity, and Choice

Economics: is the study of choice under conditions of scarcity

Scarcity: a situation in which the amount of something available is insufficient to satisfy the desire for it.

- time and purchasing power are scarce

As individual’s, we face a scarcity of time and spending power. Given more of either, we could have more of the goods and services that we desire.

Resources: the land, labor, and capital that are used to produce goods and services

- scarce labor
– the time human beings spend producing goods and services capital
– long lasting tools used in producing goods and services physical capital: buildings, machinery, equipment human capital: skills and training workers possess land
– the physical space on which production occurs, and the natural resources that
come with it

As a society, our resources, land, labor, and capital, are insufficient to produce all the goods and services we might desire. In other words, society faces a scarcity of resources.

Raw material – not long lasting tool Ex. Chalk

What to produce?
How much to produce?
How to produce it?

The World of Economics

Microeconomics: the study of the behavior of individual households, firms, and governments; the Choices they make; and their interaction in specific markets What happens to the cost of movie tickets over the next five years? How many jobs will open up in the fast-food industry?

Macroeconomics: the study of the economy as a whole Lumps all goods and services together and looks at the economy’s total output.

Positive economics: the study of what is, of how the economy works (deals with the facts)
Ex. If we lower income tax rates in the U.S. next year, will the economy grow faster? If so, by how much? What effect will it have on total employment?

Normative economics: the study of what should be; it is used to make value judgments, identify Problems, and prescribe solutions. Normative analysis is based on positive analysis.

Why Study Economics

1. To understand the world better

- understand global and cataclysmic events such as wars, famines, epidemics
- understand local problems; ex. Worsening traffic conditions in the city
- tell us how many skilled therapists, ministers are available to help us

2. To gain self-confidence

- when you master economics, you gain a sense of mastery over the world,
and thus over your own life

3. To achieve social change

- make the world a better place
- help understand stand the origins of problems

4. To help prepare for other careers

- doctors need to understand how newer technology or changes in the structure if HMO’s will affect their practices

5. To become an economist

The Methods of Economics

Model: an abstract representation of reality

A model should as simple as possible and still accomplish its purpose

Simplifying assumption: any assumption that makes a model simpler without affecting any of its.

Important conclusions

Ex. Assume that there are only two goods, two nations

Critical assumption: any assumption that affects the conclusions of a model in an important way.

Ex. We assume that firms will try to earn the highest possible profit

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