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Indifference Curves in Economics: What Do They Explain?

Every level of utility will have its own indifference curve. In other words, an infinite number of indifference curves are not drawn on this diagram—but you should remember that they exist. An isoquant curve is negatively sloped because there are substitution possibilities. It is possible to reduce one input and keep output constant by increasing another input.

Ridge line OL, therefore, is the locus of points where marginal productivity of labour is zero. Point F of IP3 indicates that to produce 60 quintals of wheat, OR3 units of labour and OM3 units of land are required. OR3 units of labour are the minimum units to produce this level of output. If keeping OR3 units of labour constant, more than OM3 units of labour are used, the total output will be less than 60 quintals of wheat. An iso-product curve, on the other hand, represents a particular level of output.

  1. The isoquant curve is a graph, used in the study of microeconomics, that charts all inputs that produce a specified level of output.
  2. Therefore as seen in figure 9, IQ and IQ1 cannot be isoquants.
  3. Usually they are found different and, therefore, isoquants may not be parallel as shown in Fig.

Some economists argue that the concept of indifference is hypothetical, and therefore incompatible with real-life economic actions taken by consumers. Furthermore, people’s relative preferences have been found to change over time and depending on their social context. Delve into the integral concept of the Isoquant Curve, a pivotal tool in the field of Business Studies. Gain comprehensive understanding, explore its practical illustrations and refine your skills in drawing this crucial economic indicator. Navigate key comparisons with the Indifference Curve, and unravel the connectivity between the Isoquant and Isocost Curves. This astute exploration is utterly worthwhile for understanding the practical implications of the Isoquant Curve in managerial economics.

For example, each indifference curve is typically convex to the origin, and no two indifference curves ever intersect. Consumers are always assumed to be more satisfied when achieving bundles of goods on indifference curves that are farther from the origin. This is because, at a higher curve, factors of production are more heavily employed.

Thus, the enter elements may be substituted for each other to have an unchanged degree of output. As a result, firm’s new iso-cost-line shifts to the right as CD. New iso-cost line CD will be parallel to the initial iso-cost line. CD touches IQ1 at point E1 which will constitute the new equilibrium point.

If firms are acting as price-takers in factor markets, the isocost curve is a straight line, whose slope represents the relative prices of different factors’ services. It is the line which reveals the assorted combinations of things that may lead to the identical level of complete value. It refers to these totally different combinations of two factors that a agency can obtain at the same cost. Explain how the consumer attains utility maximisation and producer ensures cost minimization with the help of indifference curve and isoquant technique. These arguments about the shapes of indifference curves and about higher or lower levels of utility do not require any numerical estimates of utility, either by the individual or by anyone else. Given these gentle assumptions, a field of indifference curves can be mapped out to describe the preferences of any individual.

Indifference Curves in Economics: What Do They Explain?

One knows from the iso-quant curves the extent to which production should be carried out. Lines which represent the limits of the economic region of production are called ridge lines. Ridge lines join those points on different iso-quant curves which determine the economic limits of production. People cannot really put a numerical value on their level of satisfaction.

Profit maximisation – the least cost method of production

The choice of which input to use will depend on the relative prices. At some critical price ratio, the optimum input mix will shift from all input A to all input B and vice versa in response to a small change in relative prices. If the two inputs are perfect substitutes, the resulting isoquant map generated is represented in fig. A; with a given level of production Q3, input X can be replaced by input Y at an unchanging rate. The perfect substitute inputs do not experience decreasing marginal rates of return when they are substituted for each other in the production function.

Isoquants vs. indifference curves

However, the distance EF is greater than FG and FG is greater than GH i.e. If at point ‘C’ more than OL3 units of labour are used then to keep the total output of 60 quintals of wheat constant, more than ON3 units of land will have to be used. In figure 5, as the producer strikes from level A to B, from B to C and C to D along an isoquant, the marginal rate of technical substitution (MRTS) of labor for capital diminishes. The MRTS diminishes because the two components are not excellent substitutes. In figure 5, for each improve in labor models by (ΔL) there is a corresponding lower within the units of capital (ΔK). Because people are constrained by a limited budget, they cannot purchase everything.

The producer increases the output from one hundred models to 200 items by growing the amount combination of each the X and Y. The combination of OC of capital and OL of labor yield one hundred units of manufacturing. The manufacturing may be increased to 200 models by rising the capital from OC to OC1 and labor from OL to OL1.

Thus; it requires twice as much of both capital and labour to produce 200 units instead of 100 units; 50 percent further more to produce 300 instead of 200 and so on. In other words the rays show the returns to scale which implies that to increase output both the inputs should be increased in the same proportion. This means that 100 units increase in output can be obtained by employing successively lesser increments of labour. Let us suppose that EF is 20 units of labour and FG is 10 units of labour. Then from E to F the additional 100 units of output are obtained by employing additional 20 units of labour.

By joining together equilibrium points E, E1 and E2, one gets a line called scale-line or Expansion Path. It is because a firm expands its output or scale of production in conformity with this line. The iso-cost line gives information regarding factor prices and difference between isoquant and indifference curve financial resources of the firm. Production thus, will be done on the segment below point ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’. (iii) Spending the money on both labour and capital, he can choose between various possible combinations of labour and capital such as (4, 3) (2, 4) etc.

The points such as H, K, R and S lie on higher iso-cost lines. They require a larger outlay, which is beyond the financial resources of the firm. Accordingly, points ‘D’ and ‘E’ on IPi and IP2 curves represent zero marginal productivity of land. Lilly would receive equal utility from all combinations of books and doughnuts on a given indifference curve. Any points on the highest indifference curve Uh, like F, provide greater utility than any points like A, B, C, and D on the middle indifference curve Um.

Iso-Quant Curve: Definitions, Assumptions and Properties

Indifference curves have been criticized for making unrealistic assumptions about consumer behavior. Some economists argue that every choice indicates a preference for one combination over another, not indifference to the outcome. Others note that consumer preferences can change over time, which would make a given indifference curve useless for any analysis. Different values of c correspond to different indifference curves, so if we increase our expected utility, we obtain a new indifference curve that is plotted above and to the right of the previous one. An indifference curve is used by economists to explain the tradeoffs that people consider when they encounter two goods that they wish to buy.

As we move from point A to B, from B to C and from C to D along an isoquant, the marginal price of technical substitution (MRTS) of capital for labour diminishes. Everytime labour models are increasing by an equal amount (AL) however the corresponding lower in the items of capital (AK) decreases. The iso-cost line is similar to the price or budget line of the indifference curve analysis. It is the line which shows the various combinations of factors that will result in the same level of total cost. The marginal rate of technical substitution between L and K is defined as the quantity of K which can be given up in exchange for an additional unit of L. An isoquants is also called equal product curve or iso-product curve.

Slope of an iso-quant curve is influenced by the technical possibility of substitution between factors of production. It depends on marginal rate of technical substitution (MRTS) whereas slope of an indifference curve depends on marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between two commodities consumed by the consumer. From the above schedule iso-product curve can be drawn with the help of a diagram. Equal product curve represents all those combinations of two inputs which are capable of producing the same level of output. 1 shows the various combinations of labour and capital which give the same amount of output. An isoquant curve is a concave-shaped line on a graph, used in the study of microeconomics, that charts all the factors, or inputs, that produce a specified level of output.

Like, indifference curves, Iso- quant curves also slope downward from left to proper. The slope of an Iso-quant curve expresses the marginal fee of technical substitution (MRTS). It is a firm’s counterpart of the consumer’s indifference curve. Thus, an isoquant may also be outlined because the graphical illustration of various mixtures of two inputs which give identical stage of output to the producer. Since all the combinations lying in an isoquant curve yield the same stage of production, a producer is detached between the mixtures. It refers to those different combinations of two factors that a firm can obtain at the same cost.


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