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LONG-RUN AVERAGE COST CURVE: A curve depicting the per unit cost of producing a good or service in the long run when all inputs are variable. The long-run average cost curve (usually abbreviated LRAC) can be derived in two ways. On is to plot long-run average cost, which is, long-run total cost divided by the quantity of output produced. at different output levels. The more common method, however, is as an envelope of an infinite number of short-run average total cost curves. Such an envelope is base on identifying the point on each short-run average total cost curve that provides the lowest possible average cost for each quantity of output. The long-run average cost curve is U-shaped, reflecting economies of scale (or increasing returns to scale) when negatively-sloped and diseconomies of scale (or decreasing returns to scale) when positively sloped. The minimum point (or range) on the LRAC curve is the minimum efficient scale.

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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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MARGINAL PROPENSITY TO CONSUME

The proportion of each additional dollar of household income that is used for consumption expenditures. The marginal propensity to consume (abbreviated MPC) is another term for the slope of the consumption line and is calculated as the change in consumption divided by the change in income. The MPC plays a central role in Keynesian economics. It quantifies the consumption-income relation and the fundamental psychological law. It is also a foundation for the slope of the aggregate expenditures line and is critical to the multiplier process. A related consumption measure is the average propensity to consume.

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