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WELFARE ECONOMICS: A branch of economics that studies efficiency and the overall well-being of society based on alternative allocations of scarce resources. Welfare economics extends the microeconomic analysis of indifference curves to society as a whole. It is concerned with broad efficiency questions and criteria (Pareto efficiency and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency) as well as more specific efficiency issues (market failures, externalities, public goods).

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PERFECT COMPETITION, PROFIT MAXIMIZATION: A perfectly competitive firm is presumed to produce the quantity of output that maximizes economic profit--the difference between total revenue and total cost. This production decision can be analyzed directly with economic profit, by identifying the greatest difference between total revenue and total cost, or by the equality between marginal revenue and marginal cost.

     See also | perfect competition, loss minimization | perfect competition, short-run supply curve | short-run production alternatives | breakeven output | perfect competition, revenue division |


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MARGINAL PRODUCTIVITY THEORY

A theory used to analyze the profit-maximizing quantity of inputs (that is, the services of factor of productions) purchased by a firm in the production of output. Marginal-productivity theory indicates that the demand for a factor of production is based on the marginal product of the factor. In particular, a firm is generally willing to pay a higher price for an input that is more productive and contributes more to output. The demand for an input is thus best termed a derived demand.

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