This course will provide you with a basic understanding of the principles of microeconomics. At its core, the study of economics deals with the choices and decisions we make to manage the scarce resources available to us. Microeconomics is the branch of economics that pertains to decisions made at the individual level, such as the choices individual consumers and companies make after evaluating resources, costs, and tradeoffs.
When we talk about the economy, we refer to the marketplace or economic system where our choices interact with one another. In this course, we discuss how and why we make economic decisions, and how our choices affect the economy. Think about each of the following units as a building block, where the concepts you learn will enable you to understand the material you discover in the next unit.
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By the end of this course, you will have a strong grasp on the major issues microeconomists face, including consumer and producer behavior, the nature of supply and demand, the different kinds of markets and how they function, and the welfare outcomes of consumers and producers. We also explore how these formal principles and concepts apply to real-world issues. The scope and emphasis of this course go beyond a general understanding of microeconomics to incorporate the core concepts of the overall field of economics.
Before we dive into the principles of microeconomics, we need to define some of the major ideas that lie at the heart of economics. What is the economic way of thinking? What do economists mean when they discuss market structure and the invisible hand?
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In this unit we identify and define these terms before addressing the driving principles behind microeconomics: the idea that individuals and firms (economic agents) make rational choices based on self-interest. These decisions are necessary, because resources are scarce. In other words, no good or item is infinitely available. We will also introduce a number of economic models, the assumptions and constraints associated with each, and the ways they help us better understand real-life situations.
We introduce the ceteris paribus assumption, which is crucial to building correlations among economic variables. When using ceteris paribus, we assume that all variables – with the exception of those in explicit consideration – will remain constant. We then examine the supply and demand models and the resulting market equilibrium that occurs where the supply curve and the demand curve intersect. We also explore what causes movements along the curve and the set of factors that cause the curves to shift, affecting both price and quantity, before discussing the meaning and significance of elasticity.
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Next, we explore what happens when a market fails to produce a reasonable equilibrium. This situation typically occurs when either the market is not competitive or complete, or its participants are ill-informed. We evaluate various ways the government can address these failures and begin to understand the intricate relationship between government and economics.
we examine how markets increase overall welfare via the concepts of consumer and producer surplus. We explore how the concepts of marginal costs and benefits affect a company’s decision to make one more, or one less, product.