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Consumer surplus refers to the benefit to the purchaser of buying a product for a price lower than the amount they were willing to pay. This concept is closely linked to the elasticity of demand and the user’s perception of the product’s value, the type of need it meets, and the social expectations involved in its purchase. Consumer and producer surpluses are shown as the area where consumers would have been willing to pay a higher price for a good or the price where producers would have been willing to sell a good. However, that doesn’t mean that those customers will end up paying $90. Figure 1 shows that the equilibrium price is $80 and the equilibrium quantity is 28 million tablets. At that price, each customer who would have been willing to pay $90 for a tablet is getting a good deal.

total revenue

At first glance, that might sound like a positive for everyone. However, in reality, when there’s a disconnect between supply and demand, somebody inevitably suffers and it doesn’t always end well. Budget surpluses are expected during periods of economic growth. During recessions, when consumer demand declines, budget deficits typically follow. Consumer surplus is the total benefit a consumer gains when purchasing a good or service. However, there is a limit to how high prices can go – if they go too high, demand declines and eventually disappears completely.

For example, marginal cost of a widget might include only materials and labor. The producer surplus is equal to the revenue from selling one widget minus the costs of materials and labor attributed to producing that one widget. Profit, on the other hand, looks at aggregate revenue and costs. In this formula, total revenue refers to the revenue received from selling a particular number of units of a good.

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To summarize, producers created and sold 28 tablets to consumers. The value of the tablets is the area under the demand curve up to the equilibrium quantity. The cost to produce that value is the area under the supply curve. The new value created by the transactions, i.e. the net gain to society, is the area between the supply curve and the demand curve, that is, the sum of producer surplus and consumer surplus. This sum is called social surplus, also referred to as economic surplus or total surplus. Social surplus is larger at the equilibrium quantity and price than it would be at any other quantity.

On the other hand, when the demand is elastic, consumers will be willing to pay a lower price for the good. There is a smaller gap between Pmax and Pe, as seen in diagram 2. As seen in diagram one, the consumer surplus is higher when the demand is inelastic. That’s because the consumers are willing to pay a higher price for the good.

Because marginal cost is low for the first units of the good produced, the producer gains the most from producing these units to sell at the market price. The total revenue that a producer receives from selling their goods minus the marginal cost of production equals the producer surplus. Company B produces stickers using a machine purchased for $5,000. The marginal costs attributed to each sticker are equal to $1.50, and each sticker sells for $4.00.

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Say that there are 20 companies that make widgets, each producing them at slightly different costs. In the market, there is an equilibrium point where the amount of widgets supplied meets demand at $3.00. The consumer surplus is higher when the demand is price inelastic. Figure 4 shows the consumer surplus when you have price elastic and inelastic demand. We can analyse the effects that monopoly has on producer and consumer surplus. Consumer surplus refers to the difference between the price a consumer is willing to pay for a particular good and the price they pay.

Obviously, all manufacturers want a surplus in their favor, but in free markets, this is balanced by a consumer surplus. Consumers enjoy lucrative bargains when supply is high and demand is low. Typically, a surplus causes a market disequilibrium in the supply and demand of a product. This imbalance can sometimes mean that the product cannot efficiently flow through the market.


In the context of the producer surplus, the willingness to sell is the cost of making the product. Because the cost of making the product is the value of everything the producer has to give up to make the product, and the producer is willing to sell the product for as low as the cost. Bernard believes that if he sold all of his excess decoys, he could make around $500.00? Each duck was unique but one particular all white duck seemed to catch the attention of several attendants. The price tag says $50 but one woman tells Bernard she will pay $65. A man behind her overheard and offers to pay $85.00, no one counters his offer and Bernard accepts $85.

Producer Surplus: Definition, Formula & Example

A define producer surplus increase always leads to a decrease in consumer surplus and thus to a decrease in consumer welfare. Early writers of economic issues used surplus as a means to draw conclusions about the relationship between production and necessities. In the agricultural sector surplus was an important concept because this sector has the responsibility to feed everyone plus itself.

As a result, profits and producer surplus may change materially due to market prices. To know the overall economic surplus of the market, the producer surplus is combined with the consumer surplus which tells the benefits gained by both producers and consumers in the market. If the producer is smart enough in the pricing of the goods and sells the goods at the highest price that the consumer is willing to pay, the producer can get the overall surplus in the market.

  • Rolls Royce produces expensive, high-end luxury cars that have a limited demand.
  • The producer surplus graph is the graphical illustration of the difference between the actual price of a product and how much producers are willing to sell the product for.
  • Therefore, the ordinary formula for finding an area of a triangle is used.
  • When supply and demand curves are drawn on a graph, demand is a downward slope, and an upward curve represents supply.

Just as a surplus is not always a positive sign, deficits are not always unintentional or the sign of a government or business that’s in financial trouble. Businesses may deliberately run budget deficits to maximize future earnings opportunities—such as retaining employees during slow months to ensure themselves of an adequate workforce in busier times. Surplus causes a market disequilibriumin the supply and demand of a product. This imbalance means that the product cannot efficiently flow through the market. Fortunately, the cycle of surplus and shortage has a way of balancing itself out. The economic loss in welfare as a result of monopoly or any imperfectly competitive market.

Producer Surplus

Bernard just made an additional $35 to what he was willing to When the equilibrium price increases above what the company is willing to accept for the product, it receives a surplus from the consumers. Total welfare is maximized when a market produces at its equilibrium price and quantity. This level of output is considered allocatively efficient because no other price and quantity combination can achieve a greater level of total surplus.

  • In a free market, the consumer surplus and producer surplus are constantly changing, because competitors alter their prices to gain market share and consumers are always shopping around for good deals.
  • Each price along a supply curve also represents a seller’s marginal cost of producing each unit of production.
  • The producer surplus is the difference between how much a producer is willing to sell a product for and how much the producer actually sells the product for.
  • Imagine you are ready to buy the new Apple AirPods Max for £800, and when you go to the store, you end up paying £550.
  • What that means is that this subset of customers got an even better deal at the equilibrium price.

The opposite occurs if prices go down, and supply is high, but there is not enough demand, consequently resulting in a consumer surplus. If a producer could price discriminate correctly, or charge every consumer the maximum price the consumer is willing to pay, then the producer could capture the entire economic surplus. In other words, producer surplus would equal overall economic surplus. Obviously, the sum of the producer surplus of all manufacturers in the market constitutes the producer surplus of the entire market.

Demand, Supply and Efficiency

Food is notable because people only need a specific amount of food and can only consume a limited amount. This means that excess food production must overflow to other people, and will not be rationally hoarded. The non-agricultural sector is therefore limited by the agricultural sector equaling the output of food subtracting the amount consumed by the agricultural sector. In the mid-19th century, engineer Jules Dupuit first propounded the concept of economic surplus, but it was the economist Alfred Marshall who gave the concept its fame in the field of economics.


Fewer resources should be allocated towards orange production. Surpluses often occur when the cost of a product is initially set too high, and nobody is willing to pay that price. In such instances, companies often sell the product at a lower cost than initially hoped, in order to move stock. A marginal benefit is the added satisfaction or utility a consumer enjoys from an additional unit of a good or service. Supply is a fundamental economic concept that describes the total amount of a specific good or service that is available to consumers.

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Producer surplus is found by subtracting the minimum amount acceptable from the actual amount made, or the marginal costs from the total revenue. When a producer sells their product for exactly the price they were looking to sell it for, they do not have any producer surplus. When a producer sells a good for more than the minimum he or she was willing to accept in addition to the fixed costs of the company, the producer is able to create profit. However, the existence of producer surplus does not mean there is an absence of a consumer surplus. The idea behind a free market that sets a price for a good is that both consumers and producers can benefit, with consumer surplus and producer surplus generating greater overall economic welfare. Market prices can change materially due to consumers, producers, a combination of the two, or other outside forces.