Human Resources/Managerial Economics
Explain fully the concept of ‘Price Elasticity of Demand’.
Q-2) Explain fully the concept of ‘Price Elasticity of Demand’.
Definition Of Price Elasticity Of Demand
• The change in the quantity demanded of a product due to a change in its price is known as Price elasticity of demand. Thus, the sensitiveness or responsiveness of demand to change in price is as called elasticity of demand
The number of close substitutes for a good / uniqueness of the product – the more close substitutes in the market, the more elastic is the demand for a product because consumers can more easily switch their demand if the price of one product changes relative to others in the market. The huge range of package holiday tours and destinations make this a highly competitive market in terms of pricing – many holiday makers are price sensitive
• The cost of switching between different products – there may be significant transactions costs involved in switching between different goods and services. In this case, demand tends to be relatively inelastic. For example, mobile phone service providers may include penalty clauses in contracts or insist on 12-month contracts being taken out
• The degree of necessity or whether the good is a luxury – goods and services deemed by consumers to be necessities tend to have an inelastic demand whereas luxuries will tend to have a more elastic demand because consumers can make do without luxuries when their budgets are stretched. I.e. in an economic recession we can cut back on discretionary items of spending
• The % of a consumer’s income allocated to spending on the good – goods and services that take up a high proportion of a household’s income will tend to have a more elastic demand than products where large price changes makes little or no difference to someone’s ability to purchase the product.
• The time period allowed following a price change – demand tends to be more price elastic, the longer that we allow consumers to respond to a price change by varying their purchasing decisions. In the short run, the demand may be inelastic, because it takes time for consumers both to notice and then to respond to price fluctuations
• Whether the good is subject to habitual consumption – when this occurs, the consumer becomes much less sensitive to the price of the good in question. Examples such as cigarettes and alcohol and other drugs come into this category
• Peak and off-peak demand - demand tends to be price inelastic at peak times – a feature that suppliers can take advantage of when setting higher prices. Demand is more elastic at off-peak times, leading to lower prices for consumers. Consider for example the charges made by car rental firms during the course of a week, or the cheaper deals available at hotels at weekends and away from the high-season. Train fares are also higher on Fridays (a peak day for travelling between cities) and also at peak times during the day
• The breadth of definition of a good or service – if a good is broadly defined, i.e. the demand for petrol or meat, demand is often fairly inelastic. But specific brands of petrol or beef are likely to be more elastic following a price change
Types of Elasticity of Demand:
The quantity of a commodity demanded per unit of time depends upon various factors such as the price of a commodity, the money income of the prices of related goods, the tastes of the people, etc., etc.
Whenever there is a change in any of the variables stated above, it brings about a change in the quantity of the commodity purchased over a specified period of time. The elasticity of demand measures the responsiveness of quantity demanded to a change in any one of the above factors by keeping other factors constant. When the relative responsiveness or sensitiveness of the quantity demanded is measured to changes, in its price, the elasticity is said be price elasticity of demand.
When the change in demand is the result of the given change in income, it is named as income elasticity of demand. Sometimes, a change in the price of one good causes a change in the demand for the other. The elasticity here is called cross electricity of demand. The three main types of elasticity of demand are now discussed in brief.
(1) Price Elasticity of Demand:
Definition and Explanation:
The concept of price elasticity of demand is commonly used in economic literature. Price elasticity of demand is the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a good to a change in its price. Precisely, it is defined as:
"The ratio of proportionate change in the quantity demanded of a good caused by a given proportionate change in price".
The formula for measuring price elasticity of demand is:
Price Elasticity of Demand = Percentage in Quantity Demand
Percentage Change in Price
Ed = Δq X P
Let us suppose that price of a good falls from $10 per unit to $9 per unit in a day. The decline in price causes the quantity of the good demanded to increase from 125 units to 150 units per day. The price elasticity using the simplified formula will be:
Ed = Δq X P
Δq = 150 - 125 = 25
Δp = 10 - 9 = 1
Original Quantity = 125
Original Price = 10
Ed = 25 / 1 x 10 / 125 = 2
The elasticity coefficient is greater than one. Therefore the demand for the good is elastic.
The concept of price elasticity of demand can be used to divide the goods in to three groups.
(i) Elastic. When the percent change in quantity of a good is greater than the percent change in its price, the demand is said to be elastic. When elasticity of demand is greater than one, a fall in price increases the total revenue (expenditure) and a rise in price lowers the total revenue (expenditure).
(ii) Unitary Elasticity. When the percentage change in the quantity of a good demanded equals percentage in its price, the price elasticity of demand is said to have unitary elasticity. When elasticity of demand is equal to one or unitary, a rise or fall in price leaves total revenue unchanged.
(iii) Inelastic. When the percent change in quantity of a good demanded is less than the percentage change in its price, the demand is called inelastic. When elasticity of demand is inelastic or less than one, a fall in price decreases total revenue and a rise in its price increases total revenue.
(2) Income Elasticity of Demand:
Definition and Explanation:
Income is an important variable affecting the demand for a good. When there is a change in the level of income of a consumer, there is a change in the quantity demanded of a good, other factors remaining the same. The degree of change or responsiveness of quantity demanded of a good to a change in the income of a consumer is called income elasticity of demand. Income elasticity of demand can be defined as:
"The ratio of percentage change in the quantity of a good purchased, per unit of time to a percentage change in the income of a consumer".
The formula for measuring the income elasticity of demand is the percentage change in demand for a good divided by the percentage change in income. Putting this in symbol gives.
Ey = Percentage Change in Demand
Percentage Change in Income
Ey = Δq X P
A simple example will show how income elasticity of demand can be calculated. Let us assume that the income of a person is $4000 per month and he purchases six CD's per month. Let us assume that the monthly income of the consumer increase to $6000 and the quantity demanded of CD's per month rises to eight. The elasticity of demand for CD's will be calculated as under:
Δq = 8 - 6 = 2
Δp = $6000 - $4000 = $2000
Original quantity demanded = 6
Original income = $4000
Ey = Δq / Δp x P / Q = 2 / 200 x 4000 / 6 = 0.66
The income elasticity is 0.66 which is less than one.
When the income of a person increases, his demand for goods also changes depending upon whether the good is a normal good or an inferior good. For normal goods, the value of elasticity is greater than zero but less than one. Goods with an income elasticity of less than 1 are called inferior goods. For example, people buy more food as their income rises but the % increase in its demand is less than the % increase in income.
(3) Cross Elasticity of Demand:
Definition and Explanation:
The concept of cross elasticity of demand is used for measuring the responsiveness of quantity demanded of a good to changes in the price of related goods. Cross elasticity of demand is defined as:
"The percentage change in the demand of one good as a result of the percentage change in the price of another good".
The formula for measuring, cross, elasticity of demand is:
Exy = % Change in Quantity Demanded of Good X
% Change in Price of Good Y
The numerical value of cross elasticity depends on whether the two goods in question are substitutes, complements or unrelated.
Types and Example:
(i) Substitute Goods. When two goods are substitute of each other, such as coke and Pepsi, an increase in the price of one good will lead to an increase in demand for the other good. The numerical value of goods is positive.
For example there are two goods. Coke and Pepsi which are close substitutes. If there is increase in the price of Pepsi called good y by 10% and it increases the demand for Coke called good X by 5%, the cross elasticity of demand would be:
Exy = %Δqx / %Δpy = 0.2
Since Exy is positive (E > 0), therefore, Coke and Pepsi are close substitutes.
(ii) Complementary Goods. However, in case of complementary goods such as car and petrol, cricket bat and ball, a rise in the price of one good say cricket bat by 7% will bring a fall in the demand for the balls (say by 6%). The cross elasticity of demand which are complementary to each other is, therefore, 6% / 7% = 0.85 (negative).
(iii) Unrelated Goods. The two goods which a re unrelated to each other, say apples and pens, if the price of apple rises in the market, it is unlikely to result in a change in quantity demanded of pens. The elasticity is zero of unrelated goods.