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TOTAL PHYSICAL PRODUCT: The total quantity of output produced by a firm for a given quantity of inputs. Total physical product is actually nothing more than a fancy term for total product. The additional of the second term physical merely keeps the phrase consistent with average physical product and marginal physical product, two terms useful in marginal productivity theory and the analysis of factor demand. However, average physical product and marginal physical product are really just average product and marginal product.

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VARIABLE INPUT: An input whose quantity can be changed in the time period under consideration. This should be immediately compared and contrasted with fixed input. The most common example of a variable input is labor. A variable input provides the extra inputs that a firm needs to expand short-run production. In contrast, a fixed input, like capital, provides the capacity constraint in production. As larger quantities of a variable input, like labor, are added to a fixed input like capital, the variable input becomes less productive. This is, by the way, the law of diminishing marginal returns.

     See also | input | output | fixed input | short-run production | law of diminishing marginal returns |


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SHORT-RUN PRODUCTION ANALYSIS

An analysis of the production decision made by a firm in the short run, with the ultimate goal of explaining the law of supply and the upward-sloping supply curve. The central feature of this short-run production analysis is the law of diminishing marginal returns, which results in the short run when larger amounts of a variable input, like labor, are added to a fixed input, like capital. A contrasting analysis is long-run production analysis.

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