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INDIFFERENCE CURVE: A curve that graphically depicts various combinations of goods that generate the same level of utility to a consumer. In other words, a consumer is "indifferent" among any of the bundles because they all provide the same satisfaction. Indifference curves are combined with a budget line or constraint for indifference curve analysis used to explain many aspects of demand, including the slope of the demand curve and the income and substitution effects.

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VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE: The process of willingly trading one item for another. The emphasis here is on "willingly." Voluntary exchanges are the heart and soul of market transactions, and should be contrasted with the "involuntary" exchanges mandated by government taxes, laws, and regulations. While involuntary government-forced exchanges play an important role in a mixed economy, economists really, really like voluntary market exchanges because they promote economic efficiency.

     See also | exchange | market | price | involuntary exchange | government | taxes | regulation | government functions | mixed economy |


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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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