Opportunity cost refers to what you have to provide up to buy what you want in terms of other items or services. When economic experts use the word “cost,” us usually typical opportunity cost.

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The native “cost” is typically used in day-to-day speech or in the news. Because that example, “cost” might refer to many possible ways of examining the expenses of to buy something or making use of a service. Friends or newscasters frequently say “It cost me $150 to buy the iPhone i wanted.”

Definitions and Basics

Opportunity Cost, from the Concise Encyclopedia that Economics

When financial experts refer come the “opportunity cost” of a resource, they mean the value that the next-highest-valued alternate use of that resource. If, because that example, you invest time and also money going to a movie, girlfriend cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you can’t spend the money on something else. If your next-best alternative to seeing the movie is analysis the book, climate the opportunity price of see the movie is the money invested plus the satisfied you forgo by not analysis the book….

Getting the many Out the Life: The ide of chance Cost, through Russ Roberts on

To acquire the many out the life, come think prefer an economist, you need to be understand what you’re giving up in stimulate to get something else….

Sometimes civilization are very happy stop on to the naive see that miscellaneous is free. We prefer the idea that a bargain. We don’t want to hear around the concealed or non-obvious costs. Thinking around foregone opportunities, the choices we didn’t make, can lead come regret. Selecting this college method you can’t go to the one. Marrying this person way not marrying that one. Choosing this desert (usually) means missing the end on the one….

Opportunity Cost, a LearnLiberty video.

Prof. Don Boudreaux defines what financial experts mean when they talk about unintended consequences.

Opportunities and also Costs, through Dwight Lee. The Freeman.

Economics has actually been called the dismal science since it research studies the most basic of every problems, scarcity. Since of scarcity we all confront the dismal reality that over there are boundaries to what we deserve to do. No matter how productive we become, we have the right to never attain and gain as lot as we would certainly like. The just thing we have the right to do without border is desire more. Since of scarcity, every time we execute one point we necessarily have to forgo law something else desirable. So over there is one opportunity expense to whatever we do, and that expense is to express in regards to the most an important alternative the is sacrificed….

In the News and Examples

Opportunity cost, rock concerts, and grades: A Fable the the OC, by Mike Munger on

You gain to package office about midnight, but don’t sleep much due to the fact that it’s noisy. Finally, sleep walk come. It just seems favor a couple of minutes later on when the clank the the ticket home window opening wakes you in ~ 8:00 am. In the sunlight, you notification that there are method more civilization in line 보다 you thought. Thousands, in fact. You might not obtain tickets, also after camping out… however you start thinking around opportunity cost, the large OC. girlfriend recall from economics course that the OC is around foregone alternatives. In various other words, the price of doing one point is every the other things girlfriend don’t obtain to perform as a result…. I provided this fable (sort of—it was Bruce Springsteen then) together a test question in my intermediate Microeconomics course at Dartmouth College….

Biggest expense of university is what students can otherwise knife by working. See person Capital

Gary Becker, Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Tuition and also fees room not, for many college students, the major cost of going come college. ~ above average, three-fourths that the private cost of a college education–the price borne by the student and also the student’s family–is the income that university students provide up by not working. A an excellent measure the this “opportunity cost” is the income that a newly produced high college graduate could earn by functioning full-time. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, this forgone revenue rose only about 4 percent in genuine terms. Therefore, even a 67 percent boost in genuine tuition costs in 20 years translated into boost of simply 20 percent in the median student’s complete cost the a college education.

Opportunity cost, movies, and reading:Tyler Cowen on her Inner Economist. EconTalk podcast episode, September 10, 2007:

“Economics is the research of just how to get the many out that life.” Tyler Cowen, that George Mason University, talks around his brand-new book, Discover her Inner Economist: use Incentives to fall in Love, make it through Your next Meeting, and also Motivate your Dentist. Cowen, legend blogger at, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts around the economics of parenting, reading, dentistry, art museums and also education. Highlights incorporate Tyler’s favorite art museum and what to watch there along with the obstacles of being a tourist in Morocco….

Opportunity cost and also TANSTAAFL:

Chris Anderson top top Free. EconTalk podcast episode, might 12, 2008. Special, explanation the the economic an interpretation of “There ain’t no such point as a totally free lunch,” starting at time mark 47:11.:

Chris Anderson talks with EconTalk hold Russ Roberts around his next publication project based on the idea that countless delightful things in the people are increasingly free–internet-based email with unlimited storage, on-line encyclopedias and also even podcasts, to name just a few. Why is this trend happening? Is it minimal to the internet? Is over there really any type of such thing as a totally free lunch? Is cost-free a coin cheaper than a coin or a many cheaper 보다 that? The conversation also covers whether business economics has anything to say about free….

How not to calculate opportunity cost–thinking of only similar goods:

What is possibility Cost? by David Henderson. EconLog, July 26, 2011.

Timothy Taylor gives an example of opportunity price from Yale economist Shane Frederick:

While shopping for my first stereo, I invested an hour debating between a $1,000 Pioneer and also a $700 Sony. Maybe fearing the my indecision would price him a sale, the clerk intervened through the comment “Well, think of it this way–would friend rather have actually the Pioneer, or the Sony and also $300 precious of CDs?”

How no to calculate chance cost–double counting:

War business economics by Arnold Kling. EconLog, march 7, 2003.

“Jane Galt” describes an write-up by Jamie Galbraith that, among other things, adds together the budget cost that the war and also the “opportunity cost” of law something else, together as expanding health treatment spending. This is double-counting. The budget plan cost is the opportunity cost….

Opportunity cost and crowding out of windy projects. Public resources of windy works jobs is in ~ the price of various other alternative, forgone, and equally worthy projects and also goals. See:

“The Seen and also the Unseen: The costly Mistake the Ignoring opportunity Cost”, through Anthony de Jasay.

Projects involving major expenditure and intended to develop future benefit are typically assessed in state of supposed payback. Comparing expected yield to the attention rate, or discounted cash circulation to the funding cost of the project, space the standard ways of judging whether it is worth while. In an audit sense, the expense is straightforward. The is watched as and also when the is incurred. “What is the expense of a million-dollar project?” is a silly question. The price is in the question: the is a million dollars….

Opportunity Cost and Hidden Inventions, by Dwight Lee. PDF file at First published in The Freeman

Hidden Inventions: A persistent case is that in market economies where the benefit motive reigns supreme, extremely an useful inventions are hidden to avoid their sale. Supposedly, if the innovations were obtainable they would destroy the earnings of huge corporations by make their commodities obsolete. So this corporations buy up wonderful creations to make certain we can’t to buy them.

That an impressive invention has never been discovered in some an enig warehouse does nothing to reduce people’s belief that such things exist; they’re hidden, aren’t they? The truth is that the opportunity expense of hiding a an important invention is so good that developments worth more than they expense are easily made available. Covert inventions exist only in financially uninformed imaginations….

Ticket Scalping and Opportunity Cost. EconTalk podcast, April 10, 2006.

Michael Munger of battle each other University and host Russ Roberts talk about the business economics of ticket scalping, evaluating our reaction to complimentary and found goods, gifts, e-Bay, value in usage vs. Value in exchange, and opportunity costs.

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A tiny History: main Sources and also References

Early usage of the term “opportunity cost”: The theory of selection and of Exchange, by frank Knight. Component II, thing 3 in Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit

In spite, therefore, of the purely loved one character of pain and pleasure and also of the crucial parity as motives of all choices of conduct, that is pragmatically necessary to differentiate in productive task between the just arrive “economic” utility and also the sacrificed (resources, representing) non-economic, unspecified options in general, between utility and disutility, or commodity and cost. “Cost,” in this sense, is “pain cost,” or “opportunity cost,” together one prefers; there is no real difference in meaning between the two….

Advanced Resources

Chapter 1. L.S.E. Expense Theory in Retrospect, by James M. Buchanan and also George F. Thirlby. L.S.E. Essays ~ above Cost

In full market equilibrium intended marginal benefit for every participant will certainly be equal to marginal opportunity cost, both measure up in regards to the person’s subjective valuation. Every persons challenge uniform relative prices because that goods; this is a necessary problem for the absence of more gains-from-trade. Since each participant is in full behavioral equilibrium, it follows that each human must additionally confront the exact same marginal cost. Together a demander the separation, personal, instance adjusts his purchases come insure the marginal benefit equals price. For this reason the anticipated marginal services of a good, again measure up in the numeraire, space equal for all demanders. As a caterer the separation, personal, instance adjusts his sales to insure that anticipated avenues forgone, marginal chance cost, equates to price. Thus marginal opportunity expense in the numeraire is same for every suppliers….