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FACTOR MARKET, EFFICIENCY: A factor market achieves efficiency in the allocation of resources by equating marginal revenue product to factor price. Perfect competition, as the efficiency benchmark, is the only market structure to satisfy this criterion and achieve factor market efficiency. Monopsony, oligopsony, and monopsonistic competition are inefficient because they equate marginal revenue product to marginal factor cost, both of which are greater than factor price.

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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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PRICE FLOOR

A legally established minimum price that is imposed on a market ABOVE the price that otherwise would be achieved in equilibrium. A price floor is placed on a market with the goal of keeping the price high, presumably based on the notion that the equilibrium price is too low. If imposed on a competitive market free of market failures, a price floor creates a surplus, or excess supply.

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