Marginal Analysis

Read this article to learn about one of the fundamental terms in economics: marginal analysis. Specifically, understand the concept of marginal benefit and marginal cost and what is meant in economics when we say that individuals make rational choices at the margin. Also, complete the problems in the "Try It" box and check your answers.

Economic Rationality Revisited

How, then, do you decide on a choice? The answer is that you compare, to the best of your ability, the marginal benefits with the marginal costs. An economically rational decision is one in which the marginal benefits of a choice are greater than the marginal costs of the choice.

If we return to the recreation center example above, suppose that the basic membership is $30 per month, while the full membership is $40 per month. An economically rational decision-maker would ask, Is the marginal benefit (access to the weight room) worth the marginal cost (an extra $10 per month)? For some people, the answer will be yes. For others, it will be no. Either way, marginal analysis is an important part of economic rationality and good decision-making.