<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between explicit costs and implicit costs
  • Understand the relationship between cost and revenue

Private enterprise , the ownership of businesses by private individuals, is a hallmark of the U.S. economy. When people think of businesses, often giants like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, or General Motors come to mind. But firms come in all sizes, as shown in [link] . The vast majority of American firms have fewer than 20 employees. As of 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 5.7 million firms with employees in the U.S. economy. Slightly less than half of all the workers in private firms are at the 17,000 large firms, meaning they employ more than 500 workers. Another 35% of workers in the U.S. economy are at firms with fewer than 100 workers. These small-scale businesses include everything from dentists and lawyers to businesses that mow lawns or clean houses. Indeed, [link] does not include a separate category for the millions of small “non-employer” businesses where a single owner or a few partners are not officially paid wages or a salary, but simply receive whatever they can earn.

(Source: U.S. Census, 2010 www.census.gov)
Range in size of u.s. firms
Number of Employees Firms (% of total firms) Number of Paid Employees (% of total employment)
Total 5,734,538 112.0 million
0–9 4,543,315 (79.2%) 12.3 million (11.0%)
10–19 617,089 (10.8%) 8.3 million (7.4%)
20–99 475,125 (8.3%) 18.6 million (16.6%)
100–499 81,773 (1.4%) 15.9 million (14.2%)
500 or more 17,236 (0.30%) 50.9 million (49.8%)

Each of these businesses, regardless of size or complexity, tries to earn a profit:

Profit = Total Revenue – Total Cost

Total revenue    is the income brought into the firm from selling its products. It is calculated by multiplying the price of the product times the quantity of output sold:

Total Revenue = Price × Quantity

We will see in the following chapters that revenue is a function of the demand for the firm’s products.

We can distinguish between two types of cost: explicit and implicit. Explicit costs are out-of-pocket costs, that is, payments that are actually made. Wages that a firm pays its employees or rent that a firm pays for its office are explicit costs. Implicit costs are more subtle, but just as important. They represent the opportunity cost of using resources already owned by the firm. Often for small businesses, they are resources contributed by the owners; for example, working in the business while not getting a formal salary, or using the ground floor of a home as a retail store. Implicit costs also allow for depreciation of goods, materials, and equipment that are necessary for a company to operate. (See the Work it Out feature for an extended example.)

These two definitions of cost are important for distinguishing between two conceptions of profit, accounting profit and economic profit. Accounting profit is a cash concept. It means total revenue minus explicit costs—the difference between dollars brought in and dollars paid out. Economic profit is total revenue minus total cost, including both explicit and implicit costs. The difference is important because even though a business pays income taxes based on its accounting profit, whether or not it is economically successful depends on its economic profit.

Calculating implicit costs

Consider the following example. Fred currently works for a corporate law firm. He is considering opening his own legal practice, where he expects to earn $200,000 per year once he gets established. To run his own firm, he would need an office and a law clerk. He has found the perfect office, which rents for $50,000 per year. A law clerk could be hired for $35,000 per year. If these figures are accurate, would Fred’s legal practice be profitable?

Step 1. First you have to calculate the costs. You can take what you know about explicit costs and total them:

Office rental :    $50,000 Law clerk's salary : +$35,000 ____________ Total explicit costs :    $85,000

Step 2. Subtracting the explicit costs from the revenue gives you the accounting profit.

Revenues : $200,000 Explicit costs : –$85,000 ____________ Accounting profit : $115,000

But these calculations consider only the explicit costs. To open his own practice, Fred would have to quit his current job, where he is earning an annual salary of $125,000. This would be an implicit cost of opening his own firm.

Step 3. You need to subtract both the explicit and implicit costs to determine the true economic profit:

Economic profit = total revenues – explicit costs – implicit costs = $200,000 – $85,000 – $125,000 = –$10,000 per year

Fred would be losing $10,000 per year. That does not mean he would not want to open his own business, but it does mean he would be earning $10,000 less than if he worked for the corporate firm.

Implicit costs can include other things as well. Maybe Fred values his leisure time, and starting his own firm would require him to put in more hours than at the corporate firm. In this case, the lost leisure would also be an implicit cost that would subtract from economic profits.

Now that we have an idea about the different types of costs, let’s look at cost structures. A firm’s cost structure in the long run may be different from that in the short run. We turn to that distinction in the next section.

Key concepts and summary

Privately owned firms are motivated to earn profits. Profit is the difference between revenues and costs. While accounting profit considers only explicit costs, economic profit considers both explicit and implicit costs.

Problems

A firm is considering an investment that will earn a 6% rate of return. If it were to borrow the money, it would have to pay 8% interest on the loan, but it currently has the cash, so it will not need to borrow. Should the firm make the investment? Show your work.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

References

2010 U.S. Census. www.census.gov.

Questions & Answers

why is the marginal curve u shaped
jake Reply
what is demand function
uju Reply
demand function is the mathematical representation of price and quantity demanded of goods and services at various prices at a given time .
King
Demand function is an equation which shows the mathematical relationship between the quantity demanded of a good and the values of the various determinants of demand.
Bon
why would division of labour without trade not work
Frederick Reply
as far there is an output as a goal... trade can't be exempted... because the sole reason for division of labour is for an effective and efficient output or outcome.. with such exchange trade has taken place. .
Agha-Aiguokhian
Please what is paradox of value
rakia
what is the features of monopoly market? how it is different from monopolistic market?
alisha
how does scarcity described as the efficient byway to allocate resources in a free market?
God Reply
scarcity gives or births a rational thinking to an individual or state economy in the distribution of revenue or income to the right channels of their ends... assuming the market has the features of a free market (free entry and exit, close substitutes, market price control etc)
Agha-Aiguokhian
wath is the meaning the macro economics
Jimcaale Reply
What is the way out of Scarcity
Samuel
a state referenced economic study, the manner or behavioural pattern of a state choice in making economic decisions in satisfying their ends
Agha-Aiguokhian
Thanks brother
Samuel
when total utility is constant, marginal utility do what?
rasheed Reply
Why is it that whenever I ask a question no one hears me out
Dominic
😊😊
Konadu
This is deals with only 1producer 1producer 1consumer
Motasay Reply
Oligopoly
Gh
thanks for you answer
Qaasim
With two buyers n sellers
Motasay
nothing only I study
Qaasim
still oligopoly That is when there is a limited buyer and seller in the industry. There are no perfectly elastic market entry, that is for both the price taker and the seller
Gh
thanks for your advice
Qaasim
welcomed bro
Gh
we can ask our doubt also isn't
Rohit
Yea you can as well
Gh
Like "beauty opportunity cost lies in the eyes of the beholder"discuss with practical examples
Dominic
Criticism of scarcity definition
No Reply
life is all about scarcity. there is a big reason behind that
Hassan
tell me the whole
No
as we are Muslims
Hassan
so what
No
we believe that our Allah. the God of Universe is Examining each and every one on the planet this Scarcity. the only place there is no scarcity is Aakhiro Doomsday
Hassan
i want Explanation ?
No
theory
No
You have came back our book of Quran
Hassan
Make some of our basic needs not available. For example like if we need a particular drugs to cure a virus ohh disease because if the scarcity of it it may lead to death
Motasay
what men gdb
Jimcaale Reply
with men government demand price
Jimcaale
how to draw demand curve
Michael Reply
What are the distinction between trade off and opportunity cost?
Eric Reply
what is monopoly
Mary Reply
What are the sources of monopoly
Mary
Sources of Monopoly Power Monopoly power is influenced by the following factors: Barriers to entry Number of competitors Advertising Degree of product differentiation The larger and more expensive the barriers to entry the greater the monopoly power The smaller the number of competitors in th
edward
monopoly occurs when specific enterprise supplies goods and controls the market.
sade
i think the sources of monopoly are barriers to enrty and product differentiation.
sade
Monopoly is a market structure characterized by a single seller, selling a unique product in the market in which s/he faces no competition, as s/he is the sole seller of goods with no close substitute.
edward
Monopoly is a market structure where the production of goods and services coupled with price determination of such commodities are left in the hands of a sole producer. Such factors are; Perfectly inelastic competition, High market barricade, High cost of raw materials,
Gh
what is price discrimination monopoly
sandra Reply
Charging different sets of consumers different prirces for the same good or service, for reasons not involved in cost of production. There are 3 degrees of price discrimination.
Darren
what are the 3 degree
obed
hello
Oparaugo
What up guys
Divine
what are four sources of monopoly
dora Reply
examples of what cause demand and supply to shift to the left.
Verte Reply
hello
Konadu
hi
Yaman
how are you
Yaman
are you fine
Yaman
hii
Liya
Why is there a trade off between inflation and employment? Give a situation to clear it up please
Kurt

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask