Read this article and attempt several practical problems related to consumer and producer surplus by answering the "Try It" quiz questions. Check your answers after you're done.
The familiar demand and supply diagram holds within it the concept of allocative efficiency. One typical way that economists define efficiency is when it is impossible to improve the situation of one party without imposing a cost on another. Conversely, if a situation is inefficient, it becomes possible to benefit at least one party without imposing costs on others.
Efficiency in the demand and supply model has the same basic meaning: the economy is getting as much benefit as possible from its scarce resources and all the possible gains from trade have been achieved. In other words, the optimal amount of each good and service is being produced and consumed.