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# Slides: Teaching

Time: 90 Minutes
Slides: 35
Elasticity

Session 03
Elasticity: Concepts and Applications

## Indian Institute of Management Lucknow

18 June, 2017; Sunday
Plan of the Presentation
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Part Topic

Part I: Motivation
Part II: Elasticity - Definitions and Concepts
Arc versus Point Elasticity
Exact Formula of Elasticity at a Point on a Curve
Taxonomy and Terminologies
Elasticities of Individual Items and Item Groups
Short-run versus Long-run Elasticity
Part III: A Very Brief Case Study
Part IV: Illustrative Questions

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Part I: Motivation

## How to measure responsiveness of demand or supply

with respect to a few variables of interest (typically,
prices or income)?

## Clearly, the responsiveness would depend up on some

features of the demand curve or supply curve.

Typical features:
Slope
Curvature

## Problem: Measures like slope or curvature of a curve

depend on the units of measurement!
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3
An Illustration of Dependence of Slope on the Unit
of Measurement
Demand Curve for Oil under Two Different Sets of Measurement

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A Dimensionless Measure of Responsiveness
Basic Idea: Replace percentage change in place of
absolute change

## Suppose, Y = f(X), where X and Y are the variables of

interest (e.g., Y Demand, X Price)
Then, a possible measure: (Y/Y) / (X/X)
Interpretation: Percentage change in Y under a unit percentage
increase in X.
Since both the numerator and the denominators would be
free from choice of units, the measure itself would be free
from choice of units.

## Advantage: Responsiveness of demand or supply curves for

different commodities could be compared.

## Examples involving Price and Income

By what percentage will your sales decrease if you raise your price
5.0 per cent?
Your competitor has initiated a price war by a 10.0 per cent price-
cut. How will the demand for your product be affected?
Per-capita income in the Indian economy is growing approximately
at 8.0 per cent per annum. By what percentage is demand for air-
conditioners likely to change after five years? How shall it change if
the government reduces indirect tax on AC in this years budget by
5.0 percent?

Other Examples
By what percentage will my sales change if I increase my
advertising expenditure in television by 10.0 per cent?
Murder and the probability of capital punishment (Reference: A
study by Ehlrich in American Economic Review, June 1975)

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Part II: Elasticity Definitions and Concepts
Definition of Elasticity

## Elasticity: Percentage change in one variable resulting from a 1-

percent increase in another variable.

## Illustration: Price Elasticity of Demand

Percentage change in quantity demanded of a commodity
resulting from a 1-percent increase in its price.

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Computation of Elasticity from Two Points on a
Curve: A Practical Problem

## Which one is the initial price? A or B?

Note: In one case, elasticity measure
is -3, and the other case, the same
A measure is (1/3)
What happens
when B
approaches A or
vice versa?

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Empirical Formula of Arc Elasticity
For any two points (p1,q1) and (p2,q2),
elasticity of q with respect to p may be
written as:
(q/p)(p/q)
The best approximation to the correct
measure is obtained by defining p and q as
the average of the prices and quantities at
the two points on the curve, e.g.,
[(q2 q1)/(p2-p1)][(p1+p2/(q1+q2)]

## Illustrative Example: A Very Brief Case

Study (To be presented before you soon!)

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Definition of Elasticity at a Point on a Curve
Recall: Elasticity of a variable Y=f(X) with respect to X
= (%change in Y)/(%change in X)
Precise mathematical definition of elasticity at a point (X,Y)
= (X/Y) (dY/dX) = d{ln(Y)}/d{ln(X)}
Interpretation

Linear

## Note that elasticity of a curve, like slope or curvature, could

vary from point to point.
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A Taxonomy of Elasticity
Price elasticity
Demand (Price elasticity of demand)
Own price (Own price elasticity of demand)
Cross price (Cross price elasticity of demand)
Substitutes
Complements
Supply
Own price
Income elasticity
Demand (Income elasticity of demand)

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Price Elasticity of Demand

## (Own) Price Elasticity of Demand

What kind of signs do we expect?
Cross Price Elasticity of Demand
Substitutes (+)
Complements (-)

## Note: In many cases, price elasticities are compared in

terms of the absolute values.

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Extreme Cases:
[a] (Minus) Infinite Elasticity

## Can you think of any

For a horizontal demand practical example to
curve, Q/P is infinite. illustrate this case?
Because a tiny change
enormous change in
demand, the elasticity of
demand is infinite.

Infinitely Elastic Demand: Principle that consumers will buy as much of a good
as they can get at a single price, but for any higher price the quantity demanded
drops to zero, while for any lower price the quantity demanded increases without
limit.
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Extreme Cases:
[b] Zero Elasticity (Completely Inelastic)

## For a vertical demand curve,

Q/P is zero. Because the
quantity demanded is the
same no matter what the
price, the elasticity of demand
is zero.

Completely Inelastic
Demand: Principle that
quantity of a good
regardless of its price.

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Income Elasticity of Demand

## Definition of Income Elasticity: Just apply the general

definition with income as the X variable!

## Point to Remember: Income elasticities could be both

positive and negative, depending up on the nature of the
commodity.

and income.

## Practical Problem: Often income is replaced by total

expenditure due to severe data limitations!

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Elasticity of Supply

## Definition: Just apply the common definition

with supply as the Y variable.

Sign: Positive.
Interpretation
Determinants of elasticity of supply
How easily can producers shift to other
products?
How costs respond to output changes?

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Terminologies
Price Elasticity of Demand / Supply (Ignoring Sign!)
Completely inelastic =0
Inelastic 0<<1
Unit elasticity =1
Elastic 1< <
Infinitely elastic =
Income Elasticity of Demand
Inferior good <0
Normal good
Income inelastic 0<<1
Income elastic >1

Substitute: >0
Complement: <0

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Elasticities of Individual Items and Item Groups

## A product with close substitutes tends to have

an elastic demand, one with no close
substitutes tends to have an inelastic demand.

Examples:
Food
A Product with a high brand value

## Any one of a group of related products will

tend to have an elastic demand, even though
the demand for the group as a whole may be
inelastic!

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Short-Run versus Long-Run Elasticities

## Gasoline: Short-Run and Long-Run Demand

Curves
What happens in
In the short run, an increase in price case of automobile
has only a small effect on the
demand?
quantity of gasoline demanded.
Motorists may drive less, but they
will not change the kinds of cars
they are driving overnight. In the
longer run, however, because they
will shift to smaller and more fuel-
efficient cars, the effect of the price
increase will be larger.

## Demand, therefore, is more

elastic in the long run than in the
short run, because of more
flexibility over time.

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Part III: A Brief Case Study
Keeping up with The Times
In September 1993, The Times unilaterally lowered its price

## Price Average Daily Sale

Pre- 09-93 Post-09-93 Pre-09-93 Post-09-93
Times 45 30 376836 448962
Guardian 45 45 420154 401705
Telegraph 45 45 1037375 1017326
Independent 50 50 362099 311046
___________________________
2196464 2179039

## Total daily newspaper sales (including a few other newspapers not

mentioned in the slide) remained constant at about 2.5 million at both
pre and post Sep-93.

Can you compute (i) the own-price elasticity of demand for Times, (ii)
relevant cross-price elasticities of demand for Guardian, Telegraph and
Independent?
How do you ensure that the ceteris paribus assumption has been met
here, although approximately?

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Consequence
A 40 per cent price reduction of The Times led to a 17.5 per
cent increase in its sales.
Price elasticity of demand for The Times: -0.44
Note: The revenue earned by The Times fell from
169,576 to 134,689!

## Competing papers suffered!

Independent suffered most, with a 15.2 per cent loss of sales,
indicating a cross-price elasticity of 0.38
Cross-price elasticity for the Guardian was 0.11 and that for
the Daily Telegraph was 0.05.

Implications?
What do you expect would happen to the sales of The Financial
Times?
Why did The Times adopt a strategy of price cut?

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An Imaginary Travel in Rajdhani Express

## Suppose on 30 September 2003, the Indian National Railways

(INR) unilaterally lowered the AC I class passenger fare of the
Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express!

## Fare (per 100 KM) Average Daily Sale (Rs.)

Pre- 09-03 Post-09-03 Pre-09-03 Post-09-03
INR 45 30 376836 448962
AIR 90 90 1037375 1207326
______________________________________________________

## Assuming travel by AIR as the only alternative for high-income

groups, do you think that a computation of the own-price
elasticity of demand for Mumbai-Delhi travel by Rajdhani
Express as in the earlier case will yield the correct measure?

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Part IV: Illustrative Questions
Question 1

## Suppose for a commodity X, demand and supply curves

are given by the equations
(1) Qd = 4 - P
(2) Qs = -2+P

## a) What is the price elasticity of the demand curve at the

point of equilibrium?
b) What is the price elasticity of the supply curve at the
point of equilibrium?

Question 2

## Suppose for a commodity X, demand and supply curves

are given by the equations
(1) Qd = 4 - P
(2) Qs = -2+P

(a) What are the price elasticities of the demand curve and
the supply curves at the points P = 1, 2, 3

## (b) A Tough Question:

Suppose for commodity X, price elasticity of demand is
constant throughout the curve. What can you say about
the functional form of the demand curve?

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Question 3: Elasticity at two points of a line

## What are the price elasticities of

demand at points A and B?

What happens
when B
approaches A or
vice versa?

Question 4

## A and B drive to a petrol pump. A says I want

20 litres of petrol and B says I want Rs. 20/-
worth of petrol. What can you say about A and
Bs price elasticity of demand on petrol?

Question 5

## Emily has decided to spend one third of her

income on clothing. What is Emilys income
elasticity of demand? What is her price-
elasticity of demand?

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Question 6
Emilys taste as reported in the previous
question - has now changed. She now realizes
the importance of savings and spends only one
tenth of her income on clothing. What are her
new income and price elasticities of demand for
clothing?
After solving questions 3 and question 4, what do you
think would be the relationship between price elasticity
and the change in total amount spent by consumers on
a product after a price increase?

Question 7

## What is the relationship between price elasticity

of demand and revenue earned by firms?

## A firm increased the price of its product by 5.0

per cent and observed that its revenue
increased by 3.0 per cent. Enthused by this
fact, it again raised price by another 5.0 per
cent. This time revenue fell by 8.0 per cent.

## How can one use the concept of elasticity to

explain this be explained?

Question 8

## Suppose you are comparing income elasticity of

demand for food for the Indian States. For
which State would you expect to have the
highest value and which State the lowest?

## Some related facts:

Earlier estimates reveal that income elasticity of food
in India is generally in the range of 0.7 0.9. Wide
regional variations are also reported.
The corresponding figures are: 0.65 for Peru, 0.5 for
Israel, 0.2 in the UK and 0.15 in the US.

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Question 9
In a growing economy like India, do you think
income elasticity of demand for food should be
stable? If so, why? If not, what type of
behavior do you expect?

Annexure
References

## Keywords and Important Concepts:

Elasticity, Use of elasticity in business, arc vis--vis point elasticity,
taxonomy of elasticity, elasticity of individual items vis--vis group
items, short-run vis--vis long-run elasticity, extreme cases

Craig A. Gallet and John A. List, 1998: Elasticities of Beer Demand
Revisited, Economics Letters, 61, 6771.
Other references as cited in text.

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Plan for the Next Session

## Theory of Consumer Behavior

Chapters 3 and 4 of Pindyck and Rubinfeld.
Be familiar with concepts like marginal and
diminishing / increasing marginal

Acknowledgements

## Graphs in slides 4, 8 and 25 are scanned copies of the

same in Microeconomics: Theory and Applications by FD
Glahe and DR Lee. Textbox etc. are added by the
instructor.
Parts of a few slides (especially graphs, formulas etc.) in
this presentation have been copied from Pindyck,
Rubinfeld and Mehta.
The Times case study is available in Economics by RG
Lipsey and KA Chrystal.
All other slides have been prepared by the instructor
himself with the help of the textbooks. Any omission of
references is unintentional.

Dedication