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the slope of iso-quant explains: What are the properties of Iso-quant Curve? Business Jargons


This is because the larger of input results in a larger output as compared to the curve that is beneath it. Diseconomies of scale mean that the firm grows so big that it becomes very difficult to manage it. In other words, Diseconomies of scale means there are complexity, disadvantages, and inefficiencies which accrue to a firm when it expands beyond its optimum capacity. It increases the cost and gives rise to decreasing returns to scale. The dimensional characteristics and relations have an influence in the phenomenon of increasing returns to scale.

Hence, it is rational to have isoquant convex to origin. This means that 100 units increase in output can be obtained by employing successively lesser increments of labour. Let us suppose that EF is 20 units of labour and FG is 10 units of labour.

As per the figure, at point A, different combinations on IQ1 and IQ2 produces the same level of output which is not feasible. Since both the curves show different levels of output i.e. 100 and 200 units respectively. The iso-quant curve is convex to the origin because of the MRTP effect. This shows that factors of production are substitutable for each other and with the increase in one factor the other has to be reduced to have the same level of production. If it does, the rate of technical substitution is void, as it will indicate that one factor is responsible for producing the given level of output without the involvement of any other input factors.

Elasticity of Substitution Between Factors

This absurd result confirms the statement that isoquants cannot intersect. “An Iso-quant is a curve showing all possible combinations of inputs physically capable of producing a given level of output” – Ferguson. In the short-term, a firm faces a trade-off along one particular isoquant. But, in the long-term, a firm can invest in increasing capital stock and produce at a higher output for the same quantity of labour. However, at a combination of 9 Labour, employing an extra worker enables a saving of only 2 capital. Therefore, the more that workers are employed, there is a diminishing rate at which you can substitute the other factor.

  • When CG labour is employed with ОС capital, output is 100.
  • Therefore, a rational producer will abandon those unfeasible input combinations unless she is compensated for the use of those input combinations.
  • Similarly, points A1and A2 on IQ2 and IQ3 describe zero MPL while points beyond A1 and A2 describe negative MPK.
  • The shift of the isocost line continues further with increases in money outlay.

Then from E to F the additional 100 units of output are obtained by employing additional 20 units of labour. From F to G additional 100 units of output is obtained by employing only 10 more units of labour. In short, the marginal product of labour increases when output is expanded along the output path RP. The isoquant curves for 100, 200, 300 and 400 units of output shows that output is increasing by a constant amount by 100 units. These isoquants intersect the output path RP at point E, F, G and H.

Business Economics Tutorial

A locally nonconvex isoquant can occur if there are sufficiently strong returns to scale in one of the inputs. In this case, there is a negative elasticity of substitution – as the ratio of input A to input B increases, the marginal product of A relative to B increases rather than decreases. An isoquant is a graph showing combinations of capital and labor that a firm can use to produce a given output. Isoquant curve is a special type of curve that is used in Economics. An isoquant curve is a graphic representation of the relationship between two factors of production.


We should note that in this case, the production function is homogeneous of degree less than one. The two inputs can be substituted for one another at a diminishing rate, up to a certain limit. The maximum level or amount of output that can be produced with a given amount of inputs. A fixed input is one whose amount cannot be changed over the short run.

Choice of Optimal Factor Combination or Least Cost Combination of Factors or Producer’s Equilibrium:

In such a situation isocost line shifts upward parallelly and the equilibrium is determined at the points where it touches a higher isoquant. Input-output isoquants are L-shaped curve [Figure-8.6 ] and also known as Leontief isoquants. They assume a perfect complementary nature between factors implying zero substitutability. It means that there is only one method of production to produce a commodity. Hence, to increase output, both factors are to be increased holding the proportion constant. An isoquant map, as shown in Figure-8.6, is a cluster of isoquants, each one of which represents production of a specific quantity of output.

If all points of tangency like LMN are joined by a line, it is known as an output-factor curve or least-outlay curve or the expansion path of a firm. In such an isoquant curve, the factors of production can substitute each other to a limited extent. When the two factors of production cannot be replaced by one another, a right-angled isoquant curve is formed. Further, as the firm expands, it enjoys internal economies of production. It may be able to install better machines, sell its products more easily, borrow money cheaply, procure the services of more efficient manager and workers, etc.

The least cost combination is where the ratio of marginal products is equal to the ratio of factor prices. At this point, the slope of the isoquant, and the slope of the isocost, will be equal . A firm has incentive to produce at the least cost combination because it is at this point, the related costs of desired production are minimised.

It occurs when additional application of the variable factor i.e., labour increases total output at increasing rate. 17 explains the situation of increasing returns to a factor. While using ON3 amount of land, at point C, if more than OL3 units of labour are used, total output will be less than 60 quintals of wheat.

Pollution of lakes and rivers generate external diseconomy for the fishing industry and health hazards for residents. Risk Bearing diseconomies arise when diversification is greater than before beyond the optimum limit. When too much diversification is taken up, liquidity is lost. In case of large firms, risk of strike and lockouts are more. IV. All firms get better marketing opportunities as buyers find it convenient to approach them in a particular area. Risk-bearing economies may be secured in matters of risk as large firms are in a position to bear risk.

Assumptions for Isoquant Curve

In other words, the the slope of iso-quant explains rate of technical substitution of labour for capital must be diminishing at the point of tangency for equilibrium to be stable. In Figure 24.18, S cannot be the point of equilibrium, for the isoquant IQ1, is concave where it is tangent to the isocost line GH. At point S, the marginal rate of technical substitution between the two factors increases if move to the right m or left on the curve lQ1. The second stage of the law of variable proportions is the portion of the isoquants which lies in between the two ridge lines О A and OB.


The table further shows that as the producer uses more of one factor input, labour in the table, it reduces the use of other factor. For example, moving from combination A to B, labour increases by one unit while capital decline by 15 units or substituting 15 units of capital by one additional unit of labour. This will be further explained under the concept of marginal rate of technical substitution . There are increasing returns to scale when the output increases more than proportion­ately to the increase in inputs. In other words, if in order to get equal increases in output, both factors are to be increased in smaller proportionate units there is increas­ing returns to scale.

In the same way, we can find out point A and B on iso-quant curves IP) and IP2 where marginal productivity of labour will be zero. The lines joining these points are called ridge lines. Ridge line OL, therefore, is the locus of points where marginal productivity of labour is zero. Point F of IP3 indicates that to produce 60 quintals of wheat, OR3 units of labour and OM3 units of land are required.

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Note that we do not differentiate $\bar Q$ since we want it to be fixed, for different combinations of inputs. It tells the firm how much capital is needed to replace a labor unit to maintain the output. On the left, it is rise over run and tells us the MRTS necessary to continue producing 75 TVs. The isoquant concept is based on the following assumptions;Only two inputs are used to produce a good.

Properties of an Isoquant:

Under the given technique, factors of production can be used with maximum efficiency. Also, when the curve crosses the y-axis, the production is done through capital itself, without employing any labour. Marginal Rate of Technical Substitution is the proportion at which the one production factor partially replaces the other, to produce consistent output. Isoquant curves usually depicts the interaction of capital and labour, as well as the technical trade-off that exists. The technique involved here is similar to the indifference curve technique used in consumption theory.

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