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LABOR-LEISURE TRADEOFF: The perpetual tradeoff faced by human beings between the amount of time spent engaged in wage-paying productive work and satisfaction-generating leisure activities. The key to this tradeoff is a comparison between the wage received from working and the amount of satisfaction generated from leisure. Such a comparison generally means that a higher wage entices people to spend more time working, which entails a positively sloped labor supply curve. However, the backward-bending labor supply curve results when a higher wage actually entices people to work less and to "consume" more leisure time.

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AVERAGE VARIABLE COST: Total variable cost per unit of output, found by dividing total variable cost by the quantity of output. Average variable cost, abbreviated AVC, decreases with additional production at relatively small quantities of output, then eventually increases with relatively larger quantities of output. This pattern is illustrated by a U-shaped average variable cost curve. The logic behind this decrease-increase U-shaped pattern can be found with a closer examination of the law of diminishing marginal returns, average product, and the average-marginal rule. You should also check out marginal cost.

     See also | total variable cost | short-run production | average variable cost curve | average product | quantity | technology | resource prices | average total cost | marginal cost | average fixed cost | law of diminishing marginal returns | average-marginal rule | U-shaped cost curves | increasing marginal returns | decreasing marginal returns |


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AVERAGE TOTAL COST CURVE

A curve that graphically represents the relation between average total cost incurred by a firm in the short-run product of a good or service and the quantity produced. The average total cost curve is constructed to capture the relation between average total cost and the level of output, holding other variables, like technology and resource prices, constant. The average total cost curve is one of three average curves. The other two are average variable cost curve and average fixed cost curve. A related curve is the marginal cost curve.

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