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Sunk costs

In the budget constraint framework, all decisions involve what will happen next: that is, what quantities of goods will you consume, how many hours will you work, or how much will you save. These decisions do not look back to past choices. Thus, the budget constraint framework assumes that sunk costs    , which are costs that were incurred in the past and cannot be recovered, should not affect the current decision.

Consider the case of Selena, who pays $8 to see a movie, but after watching the film for 30 minutes, she knows that it is truly terrible. Should she stay and watch the rest of the movie because she paid for the ticket, or should she leave? The money she spent is a sunk cost, and unless the theater manager is feeling kindly, Selena will not get a refund. But staying in the movie still means paying an opportunity cost in time. Her choice is whether to spend the next 90 minutes suffering through a cinematic disaster or to do something—anything—else. The lesson of sunk costs is to forget about the money and time that is irretrievably gone and instead to focus on the marginal costs and benefits of current and future options.

For people and firms alike, dealing with sunk costs can be frustrating. It often means admitting an earlier error in judgment. Many firms, for example, find it hard to give up on a new product that is doing poorly because they spent so much money in creating and launching the product. But the lesson of sunk costs is to ignore them and make decisions based on what will happen in the future.

From a model with two goods to one of many goods

The budget constraint diagram containing just two goods, like most models used in this book, is not realistic. After all, in a modern economy people choose from thousands of goods. However, thinking about a model with many goods is a straightforward extension of what we discussed here. Instead of drawing just one budget constraint, showing the tradeoff between two goods, you can draw multiple budget constraints, showing the possible tradeoffs between many different pairs of goods. Or in more advanced classes in economics, you would use mathematical equations that include many possible goods and services that can be purchased, together with their quantities and prices, and show how the total spending on all goods and services is limited to the overall budget available. The graph with two goods that was presented here clearly illustrates that every choice has an opportunity cost, which is the point that does carry over to the real world.

Key concepts and summary

Economists see the real world as one of scarcity: that is, a world in which people’s desires exceed what is possible. As a result, economic behavior involves tradeoffs in which individuals, firms, and society must give up something that they desire to obtain things that they desire more. Individuals face the tradeoff of what quantities of goods and services to consume. The budget constraint, which is the frontier of the opportunity set, illustrates the range of choices available. The slope of the budget constraint is determined by the relative price of the choices. Choices beyond the budget constraint are not affordable.

Opportunity cost measures cost by what is given up in exchange. Sometimes opportunity cost can be measured in money, but it is often useful to consider time as well, or to measure it in terms of the actual resources that must be given up.

Most economic decisions and tradeoffs are not all-or-nothing. Instead, they involve marginal analysis, which means they are about decisions on the margin, involving a little more or a little less. The law of diminishing marginal utility points out that as a person receives more of something—whether it is a specific good or another resource—the additional marginal gains tend to become smaller. Because sunk costs occurred in the past and cannot be recovered, they should be disregarded in making current decisions.

Problems

Use this information to answer the following 4 questions: Marie has a weekly budget of $24, which she likes to spend on magazines and pies.

If the price of a magazine is $4 each, what is the maximum number of magazines she could buy in a week?

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If the price of a pie is $12, what is the maximum number of pies she could buy in a week?

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Draw Marie’s budget constraint with pies on the horizontal axis and magazines on the vertical axis. What is the slope of the budget constraint?

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What is Marie’s opportunity cost of purchasing a pie?

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References

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. 2015. “Median Weekly Earnings by Educational Attainment in 2014.” Accessed March 27, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/median-weekly-earnings-by-education-gender-race-and-ethnicity-in-2014.htm.

Robbins, Lionel. An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science . London: Macmillan. 1932.

United States Department of Transportation. “Total Passengers on U.S Airlines and Foreign Airlines U.S. Flights Increased 1.3% in 2012 from 2011.” Accessed October 2013. http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/press_releases/bts016_13

Questions & Answers

what is green revolution ?discuss the achievement of green revolution in India
Sweety Reply
what calculation for demand and supply
Amoo Reply
what is nationalisation
Awuni Reply
it is a process of converting private assets into public assets by undertaking the control of government or state authority
ru
anything which is widely acceptable as a medium of exchange
Shabana Reply
money ,currency
ru
Hello plz,what is the full mean of tertiary?
al Reply
tertiary also called philoshper
Waseem
tertiary means third..for example primary sector ,secondary and tertiary sector... means three number..
ru
ru 9ice tnk
al
your most welcome.
ru
tnz
al
what is money
Tettey
what is a bank
Walters
a financial institution which holds money for its clients ,which collect deposit and lend money at interest and trades generally in money...
Shabana
what is bankers draft ?kindly explain with example .
Shabana
money "anything which is widely acceptable as a medium of exchange"
Shabana
yes u ryt #shabana
Dar
difference between cost and price
Dar
Shallow definition
Adam
cost"the value of input that is the amount of money which is used to produce a good or service . price"an amount of money which has to b paid to buy something.
Shabana
Tertiary is an adjective(pre position) for stages or levels and refers to "top, final, full term ." ; Advanced.
Anderson
bank draft is a type of cheque which a person buy for to pay someone who is not willing to accept a personal cheque .
ru
tertiary sector is an providing any kind of services.
Madhu
primary sector is 'agriculture', secondary sector is ' industrial sector ,and the tertiary sector is ,' service sector' ,
Dharam
what is occupational structure
Madhu Reply
occupational structure refers to the distribution of occupation on the basis of educational ,socoial ,income level in a society or economy
ru
no that is not a exact meaning
Madhu
than what is exact meaning
Dharam
It refers to also the what is the average income of the person
Madhu
what is deficit
Obiajunwa Reply
deficit = expenses > revenue
Waseem
yeah expenses over revenue results in deficit
Paulina
insufficiency
Anderson
What is What is Equilibrium
Bright Reply
from business point of view it is that point where business revanu are equal to its expenses.
ru
in economy where demand is equal to supply is called equalibrium
ru
Equilibrium in economics is where quantity demanded is equal to quantity supplied
Collins
what are the objectives of devaluation
Oyedun
how the government solve the problem of scarcity
SUNDAY Reply
how government solve the problem of scarcity
SUNDAY
by deciding the output limit for every industry and providing resources to these industries according to output limit .the problem can be solved
ru
and by controlling the activity of production like as a mixed economy this problem can be solved
ru
by proper planning to cater the needs of people, demand & supply process may prove helpful. and by imposing heavy import duty on the product to shift the demand towards available alternative sources.
Abida
changing the methods of production, and tax system
Khushal
In problems of scarcity government should adopt a plan or state budget, form a long term policy , deal with corruption , mobilise resources ,systems and monitor.
Anderson
by doing various plans or scheme and providing various kind of free or in less price to the needy people
Madhu
Plx anyone explain bankers draft by giving example.
Shabana
what is price elasticity of demand?
Asamoah Reply
price elasticity of demand is the percentage in quantity demanded of a good or service to the percentage change in its price.
Cobbina
Price elasticity of demand is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness, or elasticity, of the quantity demanded of a good or service to a change in its price when nothing but the price changes.
TOHEEB
Price elasticity of Demand is a prepotionat change in the demand due to change in price of the goods and service
Dawal
what is monopoly and monopolistic?
KPAAKPA
Price elasticity of demand is the economy measure to show the responsiveness and change in price due to change in quantity.
Lomayani
what is economics
Kenethy Reply
one simple reason to build format in level great leverage for better control knowing grown level greater with word trade..
Larod
Any one who can assit me with Multiplier
Wendy
Yeah sure
Aqrar
You mean Multiplier effect!5
Aqrar
ECONOMICS IS THE STUDY OF ECONOMIC ISSUES OR (ECONOMIC PROBLEMS)ARUSING OUT OF THE FACT THAT RESOURCES ARE SCARCE IN RELATION TO OUR NEEDS,DESIRES OR WE CAN SAY THAT RESOURCES ARE LIMITED OR WANTS ARE UN LIMITED HOW CAN WE UTILIZE LIMITED RESOURCES FOR SETESFY OUR WANTS
Nazneen
is called economics
Nazneen
is call economist
KPAAKPA
then
Nazneen
Economics is all about management of scarce resources. In other words its is about efficience.
Aqrar
Nazneen lets discuss some advance concepts and models
Aqrar
I.can see you have good concepts of Econ
Aqrar
what is multiplier
Wendy
@Wendy A phenomenon whereby a given change in a particular input, such as government spending, causes a larger change in an output, such as gross domestic product.
Aqrar
economic is social science that deal with the human behavior as a difference b/ween earth and scale.
jacob
Economics is a science that studies human behaviour in relation to ends and scarce means which have alternative uses
Collins
economics is a social science that deal with human behavior in aspect of end and scarce and the alternative use
Chibuzor
pls I want to known the difference between inflation and deflation, what is there difference ?
jacob
economics is the study of how man used scarce recourse to satisfy human wants
abdullahi
inflation is the increase in the general price level while deflation is decrease in general price level.
Azhar
evening,dear friends. I'm very glad to be one of you so will you please give me full imformaton about economics epically the time table of the first year of the univerysity
abdullahi
hi iam from india
Naa
economic is the study of human behavior, want by professor Robert say is all about choice and want
KPAAKPA
what is SCARCITY?
KPAAKPA
Scarcity is the limitation of resources within the economy
karl
means that human wants for goods, services and resources exceed what is available
KPAAKPA
Scarcity is inefficient resources to satisfy human want.
Pat
inflation can define as general rise in the price due to too much money in circulation, while is the decrease of the price of goods due to low money in circulation.
Musa
what is the law of dimension return?
jacob
Jacob it's diminishing return
The
The study of house hold management and money measurements
Wardan
hi
Augustine
what is mearnt of economies of scale..pls asist me
Augustine
hii
Vimarsh
when larger amount of output is produced , per unit input costs tend to fall , heading towards economiea of scale ..by acale we mean scale of production here
Vimarsh
economies# scale#
Vimarsh
alright thank u..what are its advantages
Augustine
the cost of production is low and more efficient
Vimarsh
What is demand?
Bright
demand is the various goods and services consumers are willing and able to purchase at a particular price
Paulina
What is inflation
Bright
Economics is a social science focusing on the economy and its agents in production,distribution,buying and selling involving resources such as raw materials and labour at micro ie individual or family and macro ie aggregate or total and state levels . There are several forms or brands or approache
Anderson
scarcity means non availability things or resources which satisfy humans
Madhu
demanding the various goods and services which satisfy humans needs
Madhu
when we calculate shortage and surplus why do we subtract quantity demanded from quantity supplied
The Reply
to determine surplus
Concepcion
true using of graphs
jacob
because we try to avoid negative answers
Eric
what is price ceiling
Nazneen Reply
price ceiling is a government-imposed price control, or limit, on how high a price is charged for a product. Governments use price ceilings to protect consumers from conditions that could make commodities prohibitively expensive.
Rina
price effect= Income Effect+ Substitution Effect
Muhammad
Well described Rina
Aqrar
why average revenue is equal to price in monopoly market?
khin Reply
Because One person get the monopole on demand market without any concurrence
Christian
hlw
Luman
hlw
Sheikh
Black money comes from black mark
james Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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