Wednesday  November 29, 2023
 AmosWEB means Economics with a Touch of Whimsy!
 OPPORTUNITY COST: The highest valued alternative foregone in the pursuit of an activity. This is a hallmark of anything dealing with economics--and life for that matter--because any action that you take prevents you from doing something else. The ultimate source of opportunity cost is the pervasive problem of scarcity (unlimited wants and needs, but limited resources). Whenever limited resources are used to satisfy one want or need, there are an unlimited number of other wants and needs that remain unsatisfied. Herein lies the essence of opportunity cost. Doing one thing prevents doing another.

TOTAL-MARGINAL RELATION:

A mathematical connection between a marginal value and the corresponding total value stating that the marginal IS the slope of the total curve. This mathematical relation between total and marginal surfaces throughout the study of economics, especially utility (total utility and marginal utility), production (total product and marginal product), cost (total cost and marginal cost), and revenue (total revenue and marginal revenue). A related mathematical relation exists between a marginal value and the corresponding average value.
The mathematical relation between total and marginal means that the slope of a total curve is the marginal value. If the total curve has a positive slope (that is, is upward sloping), then the marginal is positive. If the total curve has a negative slope (downward sloping), then the marginal is negative. If the total curve has a zero slope (horizontal), then marginal is zero. Moreover, if the total curve has an increasing slope (becoming steeper), then the marginal is rising. If the total curve has a decreasing slope (becoming flatter), then the marginal is falling.

To see the connection between a marginal and the slope of a given total, consider this general formula for calculating a marginal from a total:

 marginal = change in totalchange in quantity

Now consider the general forum for calculating the slope of a total curve.

 slope = riserun = change in totalchange in quantity

Is this an illusion, or are these two formulas the same? A quick check with an optometrist and psychiatrist suggests a firm grip on reality. The only possible conclusion is that these two formulas are, in fact, the same. And this means that the slope of a total is, in fact, the corresponding marginal.

To put this another way, the term "marginal" is really just another way of saying "slope." The two are really one and the same. The only conceivable difference is that slope is used when an actual graph is under discussion, whereas marginal is used when attention is turned to a mathematical equation. But, the underlying concept is the same, whether it is presented in the form of a graph or a mathematical equation--marginal is slope.

This total-marginal relation surfaces throughout the study of economics. Four of the more important total-marginal relations encountered are total utility and marginal utility, total product and marginal product, total cost and marginal cost, and total revenue and marginal revenue.

 <= TOTAL FIXED COST CURVE TOTAL PHYSICAL PRODUCT =>

Recommended Citation:

TOTAL-MARGINAL RELATION, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2023. [Accessed: November 29, 2023].

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