# Output Supply

and Labor Demand

Christopher Makler

Stanford University Department of Economics

Econ 50 | Lecture 19

## The Competitive Firm

Exogenous Variables

Endogenous Variables

technology, f()

level of output, q

conditional

input demands

Cost Minimization

Isoquant

Isocost

lines

factor prices (w, r)

profit-maximizing output supply

Profit Maximization

output price, p

Total Revenue

Total Cost

profit-maximizing input demands

total cost

## Optimization

What is an agent's optimal behavior for a fixed set of circumstances?

Utility-maximizing bundle for a consumer

Profit-maximizing quantity for a firm

Profit-maximizing input choice for a firm

## Comparative Statics

How does an agent's optimal behavior change when circumstances change?

Utility-maximizing bundle for a consumer

Profit-maximizing quantity for a firm

Profit-maximizing input choice for a firm

## Assumptions

We will be analyzing a

**competitive (price-taking) firm**

- output price \(p\)
- wage rate \(w\)
- rental rate \(r\)

# Today's Agenda

## Supply of Output

## Demand for Labor

## Short-Run Responses to Price

and Wage Changes

## Edge Cases

TR

TC

MR

MC

Take derivative and set = 0:

Solve for \(q^*\):

SUPPLY FUNCTION

### Profit as a function of quantity

### Profit as a function of labor

1. Total costs = cost of required inputs

2. Profit = total revenues minus total costs

3. Take derivative of profit function, set =0

1. Total revenue = value of output produced

2. Profit = total revenues minus total costs

3. Take derivative of profit function, set =0

### Profit as a function of quantity

### Profit as a function of labor

1. Total revenue = value of output produced

2. Profit = total revenues minus total costs

3. Take derivative of profit function, set =0

"Keep producing output as long as the marginal revenue from the last unit produced is at least as great as the marginal cost of producing it."

### Profit as a function of quantity

### Profit as a function of labor

"Keep producing output as long as the marginal revenue from the last unit produced is at least as great as the marginal cost of producing it."

"Keep hiring workers as long as the marginal revenue from the output of the last worker is at least as great as the cost of hiring them."

TR

TC

MRPL

MC

Take derivative and set = 0:

Solve for \(L^*\):

LABOR DEMAND FUNCTION

LABOR DEMAND FUNCTION

LABOR DEMAND FUNCTION

SUPPLY FUNCTION

the **conditional labor demand **

for the **profit-maximizing supply:**

The **profit-maximizing labor demand** is

# Edge Cases

Edge Case 1:

Multiple quantities where P = MC

Edge Case 2:

Corner solution at \(q = 0\)

"The supply curve is the portion of the MC curve above minimum average variable cost"

# Long Run Supply

LONG RUN

SHORT RUN

# Supply Elasticities

LONG RUN

SHORT RUN

LONG RUN

SHORT RUN

What is the **output elasticity of conditional labor demand** in the short run and long run?

Intuitively, why this difference?

In the long run, the firm uses

*both* labor and capital to increase output;

in the short run, it only increases labor.

# Supply Elasticities

LONG RUN

SHORT RUN

LONG RUN

SHORT RUN

What is the **price elasticity of supply**

in the long run and short run?

Intuitively, why this difference?

In the long run, the firm can adjust its capital to keep its costs down; so its marginal cost rises less steeply, and its supply curve is flatter.

# Supply Elasticities

LONG RUN

Work with a partner:

How would the firm respond to a

6% increase in the wage rate in the long run?

pollev.com/chrismakler

How would the firm respond to a

6% increase in the wage rate in the long run?

A 6% increase in w decreases q by 3%.

and decreases by 6% (due to the -3% change in q),

for a total decrease of 9%.

K **increases** by 3% (due to the +6% change in w)

L decreases by 3% (due to the +6% change in w)

and decreases by 6% (due to the -3% change in q),

for a total decrease of 3%.

How would the firm respond to a

6% increase in the wage rate in the long run?

A 6% increase in w decreases q by 3%.

and decreases by 6% (due to the -3% change in q),

for a total decrease of 9%.

L decreases by 3% (due to the +6% change in w)

Note: we can calculate the LR profit-maximizing demand for labor:

## What did we just show?

- If there is a
**direct causality**\(X \rightarrow Y\), elasticity measures how Y responds to X. - If there is a
**chain of causality**\(X \rightarrow Y \rightarrow Z\), the elasticity**composes**just like a function does (like the chain rule for elasticity)

# Summary

A competitive firm takes input prices \(w\) and \(r\), and the output price \(p\), as given.

We can therefore characterize its optimal choices of inputs and outputs

as **functions** of those prices: the **supply of output** \(q^*(p\ |\ w)\),

and the **demand for inputs** (e.g. \(L^*(w\ |\ p)\)).

We can find the optimal input-output combination either by finding the optimal quantity of output and determining the inputs required to produce it, or to find the profit-maximizing inputs and determine the resulting output. These two methods are equivalent.

Profit is increasing when marginal revenue is greater than marginal cost, and vice versa.

In most cases, the profit-maximizing choice occurs where \(MR = MC\).

If \(p\) is below the minimum value of AVC, the profit-maximizing choice is \(q = 0\).

In which MR or MC is discontinuous, logic must be applied. (There is an old exam question on the homework that explores this...and this kind of thing often shows up on exams...)

#### Econ 50 | Spring 2023 | Lecture 19

By Chris Makler

# Econ 50 | Spring 2023 | Lecture 19

Output Supply and Labor Demand for a Competitive Firm

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