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UNLIMITED WANTS AND NEEDS: A characteristic of people such that they are never totally satisfied with the quantity and variety of goods and services. This is one half of the fundamental problem of scarcity that has plagued humanity since the beginning of time. The other half of the scarcity problem is limited resources. Unlimited wants and needs essentially means that people never get "enough"--that there's always something else that they would want or need.

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CARDINAL: A measurement based on a scale or quantitative numbers, such as 1, 5, or 357.2, that enables a comparison in magnitude. Comparability means, for example, that the difference between 5 and 2 is the same as the difference between 12 and 9. Measures such as height and weight use cardinal numbers. Most economic measures are based on cardinal numbers, including gross domestic product, unemployment rate, the price of chocolate, and the quantity of wheat produced. The benefit of cardinal measurement is the ability to directly compare one measure with another. If, for example, the price of chocolate is $1 a pound and the price of wheat is $4 a pound, then wheat is four times more expensive than chocolate. Ordinal measures, which involve relative ranking, is an alternative type of measure.

     See also | cardinal utility | ordinal | ordinal utility | utility | satisfaction | indifference curve | quality of life |


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PERFECTLY INELASTIC

An elasticity alternative in which changes in one variable (usually price) do NOT cause any changes in another variable (usually quantity). Quantity is totally, completely unresponsive to price. Quantity just does not change, regardless of changes in price. This characterization of elasticity is most important for the price elasticity of demand and the price elasticity of supply. Perfectly inelastic is one of five elasticity alternatives. The other four are perfectly elastic, relatively elastic, relatively inelastic, and unit elastic.

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