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ECON 100 Tutorial: Week 12

www.lancaster.ac.uk/postgrad/murphys4 /
s.murphy5@lancaster.ac.uk
office: LUMS C85
Question 1(a)
Explain, in detail, what is meant by a Edgeworth box in the context
of a 2 good (1,2), 2 person (A,B) model of consumption. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer: An Edgeworth box shows the budget constraints, the


consumption patterns of the two consumers for the 2 goods, and
their associated (highest) utility levels. The sides of the box is fixed
by the levels of production of the two goods.

Here is a nice introduction/explanation for the edgeworth box:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAbwlxb9ffE
How to Draw the Edgeworth Box
Let’s say we have two people, A and B. A has an initial endowment
of 3 units of Good 1 and 2 units of Good 2. B has 2 units of Good 1
and 3 units of Good 2.

When we draw the axes for our box, we want to show the total
amount (A’s endowment + B’s endowment) of Good 1 on the X axis
and the total amount of Good 2 on the Y axis.
We graph A’s initial Endowment as a
point.
Note: Because A & B’s endowments
sum to the total amount in the box,
when we graph B’s endowment, we’ll
find that it will be on the dot that we
used to represent A’s endowment.
How to Draw the Edgeworth Box
Budget Constraint:
Our budget constraint is: , where wealth (w) is given by our initial endowment.
The slope of our budget constraint is equal to the ratio of the prices of the two
goods: .

In our case, we don’t have to be quite so technical, and we’re just going to draw
in a budget constraint that isn’t quite to scale. The key thing is to make sure it is
downward sloping (because both prices are positive) and that it is going through
our initial endowment point.
Note: Earlier we said that because A & B’s
endowments sum to the total amount in the
box, when we graph B’s endowment, we’ll
find that it will be on the dot that we used to
represent A’s endowment.
Similarly, If both are facing the same prices
(this is generally the case in this type of
problem), then the line we use for A’s budget
constraint will also represent B’s budget
constraint.
How to Draw the Edgeworth Box
Next, we can draw in the indifference curves.
Starting with person A, If the indiff. curve is tangent to the budget constraint at
the endowment point, it will look like this:
This means that the endowment maximizes
A’s utility, subject to the budget constraint. A
is in equilibrium.

Now let’s suppose that Person B also has an


indifference curve that is tangent to the
budget constraint at the point of B’s
endowment. It would look like this:

Because B has an indifference curve that is


tangent to the budget constraint at the point of
the endowment, B is also in equilibrium.
If both agents are in equilibrium, we call this
point a competitive equilibrium.

We also can call it


Pareto Efficient.
I’ve added a few notes to Ian’s slide (Slide 22, lecture 31 to 33):

Pareto efficient (PE) allocations


• Position of E depends on incomes of A and B
• All ‘s are possible PE allocations
– While is not PE – both A and B could be better off
0B Note: The blue line
Q1
here is called the
U*A contract curve. It is a
set of all possible
Pareto Efficient
U*B
points, it is a
E collection of points
where A’s
indifference Curves
are perfectly tangent
to B’s indifference
curves.
0A
I’ve added a few more notes to Ian’s slide (Slide 22, lecture 31 to 33):

Pareto efficient allocations


• Position of E depends on incomes of A and B
• All ‘s are possible PE allocations
– While is not PE – both could be better off
When two indifference curves
cross, as they do here, any point
that is within the eye-shaped area
(including the “eye-lids”) between
those two curves (shaded in gold
here) is a Pareto Improvement from
the original point where those
curves crossed.

More specifically, points along the


contract curve in this area are both
a Pareto Improvement from the red
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFooIEoBPq0 dot and are Pareto Efficient.
Question 1(b)
Show what the allocation of resources would be at some non-equilibrium
prices – for example where the price of good 1 is too high and the price of
good 2 is too low so that there is excess demand for good 2 and excess supply
of good 1. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer: The dashed line shows a budget constraint that results in
A and B’s demand for good 2 being greater than supply (the height of
the box), and the overall demand for good 1 being less than available
supply (the width of the box). There is excess demand for 2 of ED2 and
excess supply of 1 of ES1.
Question 1(b)
My notes:
This graph shows a situation where the
endowment is in disequilibrium. This is
evident because A’s indifference curve
that is tangent to the budget constraint is
NOT at the point of A’s endowment.
Instead, it is at some other point. (we can only have one indifference
curve that is tangent to the budget constraint for each person, because
indifference curves cannot cross each other (for a given agent).)

I have drawn in hypothetical indifference curve for A and B that


actually do go through the endowment point. You can see that they are
not tangent to the budget constraint.
This means that each individual would increase utility by moving to a
higher (further from their origin) indifference curve, until they are at
one that is just tangent to their budget constraint.
To get there, A would need to sell some of G1 and buy some more G2.
Question 1(b)

My notes, ctd.:
Likewise, B can sell some good 1 and buy good 2 and move down and
to the right, to reach a place where he maximizes utility (where indiff.
curve is tangent to budget constraint).

The problem is they can’t both do that if there are no other agents in
the economy to trade with.

So at these prices the demand for good 2 is greater than the total level
of good 2 in the economy, so there is excess demand for good 2. For a
similar reason there is excess supply of good 1.
To take this a bit further,
If only A and B are in this economy
how can they deal with this
disequlibrium and get to a place
where both can maximize their
utility?

To get an idea of how this can


happen, let’s temporarily ignore
prices and take a look at A’s
indifference curve that goes through
the endowment point.

A will increase utility if he can move to an indifference curve further away from the
origin (shown by the arrows).
The same is true for B.
Both can increase their utility by consuming at any point in the gold region.
There is a line which represent points where A and B’s indiff. curves are tangent to
each other. This line is called the contract curve and is represented in grey.
If the prices shift so that the price ratio intersects the contract curve within the gold
region, then they can trade with each other, which increases both utilities compared
to their utilities at E.
To look at this with more detail, Here is an example of two utility isoquants
(indifference curves) which are tangent, so we can see that they define a point on the
contract curve:

How can A and B get here from the original graph in 1(b)? They can negotiate prices
so that their budget constraint (the ratio of prices) that goes through the endowment
also goes through the gold-colored region, specifically, also through the contract
curve.

If we clean this graph up, we will have the same (not exactly to scale) graph as we see
in the next slide for part 1(c).
To look at this with more detail, Here is an example of two utility isoquants
(indifference curves) which are tangent, so we can see that they define a point on the
contract curve:

How can A and B get here from the original graph in 1(b)? They can negotiate prices
so that their budget constraint (the ratio of prices) that goes through the endowment
also goes through the gold-colored region, specifically, also through the contract
curve.

If we clean this graph up, we will have the same (not exactly to scale) graph as we see
in the next slide for part 1(c).
Question 1(c)
Argue what would then happen to these prices in a competitive model and show
(and explain) what the resulting competitive equilibrium looks like in this box. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer: In the face of ED2 and ES1 we would, in a competitive market system,
expect the price of 2 to rise and the price of 1 to fall until the markets were in
equilibrium and the Edgewoth box looked like:
Question 1(d)
Explain, with reference to the diagram from part (c), why the competitive equilibrium
is Pareto efficient. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer:

Ian’s Answer: At the equilibrium (the black dot) the MRS for A = MRS for B because
both consumers face the same relative prices (as in this diagram).
The equilibrium satisfies Pareto efficiency because the economy cannot move from
this point without making one or both individuals worse off.
That is, no Pareto improvements over this equilibrium are possible – therefore, this
equilibrium is Pareto efficient.
Note also: The set of all such Pareto efficient points is called the contract curve.
Question 2(a)
Explain the Pareto criterion and why this may not, in practice, be very useful
in evaluating the social welfare consequences of a policy change. (2 marks)

Ian’s answer: A “Pareto improvement” is a change that made at least one


person better off and no-one worse off.
“Pareto efficiency” is a situation where no Pareto improvement is possible.

My examples:
In practice most policy changes will involve some loss in utility for some
group: For example it may be impossible to give to the poor without taking
something from the rich. It may be impossible to improve the NHS without
putting some people out of jobs, raising taxes, increasing wait time or making
it harder to get certain prescriptions, etc. Even though these policies are not
Pareto improvements, they can still provide more utility to society as a whole.

Early childhood education is the surest way to lower crime, lower poverty,
and raise the GDP for at risk groups and for the country as a whole… 20 years
from now. So if someone dies before the children affected by the policy are
Question 2(b)
Suppose a policy change involves a large number of winners and a small number of losers such
that the financial gains outweighed the financial losses. Could you argue that the winners
could then compensate the losers and still be better off themselves? If not, why not? (3
marks)

Ian’s Answer: Just because the financial gains outweigh the financial losses
does NOT mean that the gainers can compensate the losers.

For example, suppose the winners were all rich and the losers were all poor
then diminishing marginal utility of income might imply that the UTILITY gains
to the financial winners might be small relative to the large UTILITY losses of
the poor. In which case, the winners could NOT compensate the losers.

Only if winners and losers were randomly selected (so, they were equally rich,
on average) could you argue that compensation would work. Alternatively, if
utility were a linear junction of income this could be assured.”

My answer/example:
In the example of early childhood education, we cannot compensate the losers
Suppose there are three individuals in a society Question 2(c)
(1, 2, 3). And there are three possible outcomes   1 2 3
that could be attained (A,B,C). Each individual’s First  A B C
rankings of these three alternatives is given here: Second B C A
Third C A B
Explain why majority voting would give
rise to a Condorcet Paradox. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer:
Two out of three prefer A to B.
Two out of three prefer B to C, and two out of three prefer C to A.

Thus voting results in a non-transitive SOCIAL ranking of the three


alternatives.
A consequence of this Condorcet Paradox is that the order in which pairwise
votes takes place effects the final outcome (show this).
Thus, the outcome depends on the agenda – what’s decided first.

Additional notes that I’ve added:


The Condorcet Paradox is when collective preferences can be non-
transitive), even if the preferences of individual voters are transitive.
Question 2(c)
Ian’s Answer stated: A consequence of this Condorcet Paradox is that the
order in which pairwise votes takes place effects the final outcome.
  1 2 3
First  A B C
Second B C A
Third C A B

Let’s look at what that means:


What would happen if votes were taken on A vs B and then on A vs C?
What is selected as the first choice/what is the overall winner?

What if, on the other hand, votes were taken on A vs C and then on B vs C?
What is selected as the first choice in this case?

Do you see how the outcome depends on which vote is taken first? This is
the Condorcet Paradox.
Question 2(d)
Suppose the rankings in part (c ) where replaced by the following:
  1 2 3
First  A C B
Second B B C
Third C A A

Explain what the social choice would be under majority voting. (5 marks)

Ian’s Answer: B beats C, B beats A, and C beats A. So this is consistent:


B wins, then C, then A.

My note:
In this scenario, each individual’s preferences are transitive and the
preferences determined by social choice/the majority vote are also
transitive. So, no Condorcet Paradox here.
Question 2(e)
Explain what is meant by “single peaked preferences”. Are the
preferences in parts (c ) and (d) single peaked? (5 marks)

Answer: See MT p474-476.

My answer: Individual’s preferences for all three individuals in (d) are


single peaked and for individuals 1 and 2 in (c). But 3 in (c) is double
peaked.

We can do social ordering for (d) but not for (c). The social ordering for
(d) is single peaked.
Question 3(a)
Suppose an economy was characterised by a monopoly in one industry.
Suppose that industry exhibited constant returns so that MC was constant,
and suppose the demand curve was linear. Show, using an appropriate
diagram, what the equilibrium price and output would be. Show the profits of
the firm and the deadweight loss (relative to the competitive price) (7 marks)
Question 3(b)
Explain why a policy of regulating this firm to
force it to set p=MC would pass a cost-benefit
criterion. Indeed, show that the benefits of
such a policy would be exactly 50% greater
than the costs of doing so. (7 marks)

Ian’s Answer:
What you may not remember is
that the MR curve has the same
intercept as the Demand curve,
but double the slope.

This implies that the monopoly output in this picture is


exactly half of the competitive output. That means that the
DWL triangle (which has the same height and base as the
profit box) must have half the area of the profit box.
Question 3(b)
Here’s the math/explanation behind Ian’s answer:
Profit, =(Pm-Pc)*Qm
DWL = ½ (Pm-Pc)*(Qc-Qm)

Since the slope of MR is twice the slope of D,


the competitive quantity is exactly twice that
of the monopoly quantity: Qc = 2Qm. So:
DWL = ½ (Pm-Pc)*(Qc-Qm)
= ½ (Pm-Pc)*(2Qm-Qm)
= ½ (Pm-Pc)*(Qm)
=½

The benefits of making this firm behave competitively is:


 + DWL =  + ½  = 3/2  = 1.5 
The costs are just , So the benefits are 50% greater than the costs!
Question 3(c)
Since the gains of making this industry competitive are large relative to the costs, the
gains from doing so outweigh the losses. It would pass a cost-benefit criterion.
Indeed, consumers could collectively compensate the losers of such a policy and still
be better off. Explain why it may be difficult to rely on such policy to make the
economy efficient? (6 marks)

The consumers would be better off by 3 DWL, and the firm would be worse
off by 2 DWL.

So the consumers could say to the monopolist:


If you set p=MC we’ll give you 2 DWL so you’ll be no worse off, and we will
end up being better off by 1 DWL. The gainers can compensate the losers!

BUT, there may be costs associated with coordinating all of the consumers to
pay this bribe.
There might be a “free rider” problem – each consumer would be better off
if she didn't contribute to the bribe, so the dominant strategy is to not
cooperate. And the bribe doesn't get paid and everyone ends up worse off!
Notes about the Exam
• Friday the 24th – Check your Timetable for time/location
• Bring a pencil, eraser, calculator and your library card #

• Please write neatly! If the graders can not read your


answer you will not get points for it!

• 50 minutes: 5 questions (each with parts a, b, … etc.)


• Exam material could be from weeks 6 – 12 (including 12)
• Questions will likely be similar to those in tutorials,
particularly the last few weeks.
(note: this is an educated guess on my part, not a guarantee!)
• It will likely take a few weeks for marks to come out.

Good luck!