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The Rhetoric of Opportunity Cost

William Polley ()

The American Economist, 2015, vol. 60, issue 1, 9-19

Abstract: A well-known survey of economists revealed that many of them could not correctly answer a basic question on the concept of opportunity cost. In this paper, I connect the concept of opportunity cost to the familiar apparatus of marginal analysis—the equality of prices and marginal rates of substitution at the margin. When opportunity cost is understood this way, it forces one to be clear about units and about the difference between discrete and continuous variables. A more general understanding of opportunity cost can link basic principles-level examples with more advanced technical examples and improve the stories that make up the rhetoric of basic economics instruction.

Keywords: Opportunity cost; willingness to pay; rhetoric of economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1177/056943451506000102

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