What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

What Is the Connection Between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product? The relationship between marginal cost and marginal product describes how an increase in one affects the other. Click on each section below to know it.

What Is a Marginal Cost?

The marginal cost is the increase or decrease in cost associated with manufacturing one additional product or supplying one additional client. It is also called incremental cost.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

Marginal costs are based on production expenses that are variable or direct, such as labor, materials, and equipment, as opposed to fixed costs that the firm will incur regardless of whether or not it raises output.

Fixed costs may include administrative overhead and marketing expenses – expenses that remain constant regardless of the number of units produced.

It is frequently estimated after enough goods have been produced to cover fixed costs and production has reached a point of break-even, when the only remaining expenses are variable or direct costs.

When average costs are stable, as opposed to circumstances in which material costs fluctuate due to concerns of scarcity, marginal cost is often equal to average cost.

Short run marginal cost

When an additional production is created in the short term and some expenses are constant, the marginal cost is the change in overall cost. The short-run marginal cost creates a U-shape on the right side of the page, with quantity on the x-axis and cost per unit on the y-axis.

On the short term, the company incurs some fixed costs regardless of output volume (e.g. buildings, machinery). Other variable expenses, such as labor and materials, are reflected in marginal costs. If the additional cost per unit is significant and the business works at too low a level of output, the marginal cost may first decrease, as seen in the diagram, or it may begin flat or climb immediately.

At some point, the marginal cost grows as the variable inputs, such as labor, exert greater pressure on the fixed assets, such as the building’s size. In the long run, the business would raise its fixed assets to match the targeted output, but the short run is defined as the period during which these assets cannot be altered.

Long run marginal cost

The long run is the duration of time during which no input is fixed. Everything, including the size of the structure and the machinery, may be chosen optimally for the required output. Therefore, even if short-term marginal costs grow due to capacity restrictions, long-term marginal costs might remain constant.

Or, if technological or administrative productivity varies with quantity, there may be growing or declining returns to scale. Or, there may be both, as seen in the picture on the right, in which the marginal cost first decreases (because to the growing returns to scale) and later increases (decreasing returns to scale)

Empirical data on marginal cost

While neoclassical models often anticipate that marginal cost would grow as output increases, several empirical investigations undertaken during the 20th century have indicated that marginal cost is either stable or declining for the great majority of businesses.

Alan Blinder, a former vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve, and his colleagues recently conducted a survey of 200 CEOs of firms with revenues above $10 million. Among other things, they inquired about the shape of their marginal cost curves.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

Only 11 percent of respondents indicated that their marginal costs grew when output increased, whereas 48 percent indicated that they remained constant and 41 percent indicated that they decreased: 106 They wrote the following in conclusion:

…far more firms report lowering marginal cost curves as opposed to increasing ones. While there are grounds to dispute whether respondents accurately read these questions concerning costs, their responses present a substantially different picture of the cost structure of the ordinary corporation than the one canonized in textbooks.

A Novel Approach to Understanding Price Stickiness, p. 105

Numerous Post-Keynesian economists have used these findings as support for their own heterodox models of the business, which often imply that marginal costs remain constant as output grows.

Perfectly competitive supply curve

The area of the marginal cost curve that is above its intersection with the average variable cost curve represents the firm’s supply curve in a completely competitive market (the portion of the MC curve below its intersection with the AVC curve is not part of the supply curve because a firm would not operate at a price below the shutdown point). companies operating in alternative market structures are not affected by this.

Monopolies, for instance, have an MC curve but no supply curve. In a completely competitive market, a supply curve depicts the quantity a seller is ready and able to give at each price — there is a unique quantity supplied for each price.

Decisions taken based on marginal costs

In completely competitive marketplaces, production volume is determined by marginal costs and selling price. If the sale price exceeds the marginal cost, the unit is manufactured and supplied. If the marginal cost exceeds the price, it is not profitable to create the item. Thus, manufacturing will continue until the marginal cost equals the selling price.

Private versus social marginal cost

The contrast between marginal private and societal costs is of critical relevance to the marginal cost theory. The marginal private cost represents the expense incurred by the enterprise in issue. In their efforts to maximize profits, corporate decision-makers consider the marginal private cost.

The marginal social cost is comparable to the private cost in that it covers not just the expense of private enterprise, but also any other cost (or compensating gain) to those that have no direct relationship with the purchase or sale of the commodity.

It takes into account both the negative and positive externalities of production and consumption. Examples include the social cost of air pollution, which affects third parties, and the social benefit of flu vaccinations, which prevent others from infection.

Externalities are expenses (or gains) that are not incurred by the economic transaction’s partners. For instance, a producer may contaminate the environment, and others may incur the associated expenses. A consumer may consume an item that generates advantages for society, like as education; nevertheless, because he does not obtain all of the benefits, he may consume less than efficiency would imply.

Alternately, a person may be a smoker or an alcoholic and impose expenses on others. In such instances, output or consumption of the questioned good may deviate from the optimal level.

Profit maximization

The graph on the right side of the page depicts the ideal production level when the marginal cost line and the marginal profit line intersect. The junction where marginal revenue equals marginal cost is shown by the Black line. On the left side of the vertical black line labeled “profit-maximizing quantity,” marginal revenue exceeds marginal cost.

If a company sets its production level on the left side of the graph and decides to raise output, the increased income per unit of output will be more than the additional cost per unit of output. We can see from the “profit maximization graph” that the income covers both bars A and B, whereas the expense only covers bar B.

Obviously, A+B generates a profit, but the growth in output to the point where MR=MC generates additional profit that can compensate for the loss of A’s income. It is advised that the company improve output to achieve (Theory and Applications of Microeconomics, 2012).

However, the right side of the black line (Marginal revenue Equals marginal cost) indicates that marginal cost exceeds marginal income. Suppose a company puts its production on this side; if it cuts output, the cost will fall from C to D, which is more than the revenue decrease, which is D. Therefore, lowering output to the point where marginal revenue equals marginal cost will enhance profits (Theory and Applications of Microeconomics, 2012).

What Is a Marginal Product?

The marginal product of an enterprise is the additional output generated as a result of increased inputs. Additionally known as minimal physical product, or MPP.

In practical terms, this may refer to the increased donuts made by a bakery after hiring an additional employee. Or it might refer to the increased strawberries obtained by a farmer who plants more seeds. Or the increased cash a bowling alley obtains when new lanes are constructed.

How Is Marginal Product Calculated?

To correctly evaluate marginal product, one must isolate a particular change inside a firm and monitor how that change affects production. Consequently, there are several methods for calculating marginal product:

The marginal product of capital is the additional production generated by the addition of one unit of capital, often cash. This indicator often pertains to startups, who rely on private financing to launch their businesses.

  • The marginal product of labor is the additional production produced by an additional worker. This often applies to established enterprises, such as a car manufacturer that adds a new employee to the manufacturing line. 
  • The marginal product of land is the production gained by adding an additional unit of land. This may apply to a farmer who acquires a field adjacent to her existing property or a manufacturing owner who expands her facility’s square area.
  • The marginal product of raw materials is the additional output achieved by increasing the supply of a single unit of raw material. Consider a maker of rechargeable batteries who acquires a stockpile of lithium or cobalt (essential materials in manufacturing the leading model of battery).

The majority of firms have variable inputs; managers may raise or reduce the quantity of labor, raw resources, and raw capital invested in the business. Their decision to change this input is often based on optimizing profit by balancing marginal cost and marginal output. As production parameters vary, so does marginal productivity, and as a result, a company’s total output and total profit may fluctuate.

3 Examples of Marginal Product

The marginal product is often quantified in physical units.

  • This implies that the amount of donuts a doughnut business can manufacture is measured. Similarly, the amount of cubic yards of cement that a cement manufacturer can generate is measured.
  • In service businesses, such as tutoring or hairstyling, marginal product may refer to the amount of services offered, such as private lessons or haircuts.
  • In the financial realm, marginal product may simply refer to cash. Given that hedge funds and venture capital organizations do not provide products or services for the broader public, their marginal output would be measured by the amount of money they can accrue for themselves.

How Does Marginal Product Relate to Total Product?

The total product of a firm is the sum total of its output, whereas the marginal product is the increased output resulting from the growth of a single input. As a general rule:

  1. When total output is low, an increase in input will result in a positive marginal product. In other words, increasing investment in a company’s capital, land, labor force, or raw resources will likely result in higher output.
  2. As a firm expands, increasing input may result in slower rates of total product growth. Consequently, the marginal product will begin to decline, although it may still be positive.
  3. A firm may reach a point when increased input results in a decline in output. The marginal productivity goes negative at this point.

What Is the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity?

The rule of declining marginal productivity is a well regarded economic principle in productivity management. In general, it asserts that the benefits received from a minor improvement on the input side of the production equation will only increase marginally per unit and may even drop at a certain point.

Understanding the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity

The law of declining marginal productivity is characterized by marginal gains in output return per unit produced. It is also known as the law of declining marginal return and the law of diminishing marginal product. It is consistent with the majority of economic theories that employ marginal analysis.

Commonly seen in economics, marginal increases indicate a falling rate of satisfaction or benefit from increased units of consumption or output.

The rule of declining marginal productivity states that managers will discover a slightly diminishing rate of production return per unit produced after implementing favorable alterations to the inputs driving output. When analytically graphed, this results in a concave chart depicting a progressive increase in total production return from aggregate unit production, followed by a possible plateau and decline.

In contrast to other economic laws, the rule of declining marginal productivity entails marginal product computations that are typically reasonably straightforward to calculate. Companies may opt to modify numerous inputs in the elements of production for a variety of reasons, the most of which are centered on minimizing costs.

In certain circumstances, it may be more cost-effective to change the inputs of a single variable while leaving the others unchanged. In practice, however, any change to input variables necessitates a thorough examination.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

These modifications to inputs will have a slightly beneficial effect on outputs, according to the rule of decreasing marginal productivity. Consequently, while production continues, each subsequent unit will generate a somewhat lower production return than the unit before it.

The law of declining marginal productivity is often referred to as the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Marginal productivity or marginal product refers to the additional output, return, or profit produced per unit as a result of advantages in manufacturing inputs. Labor and raw materials can be examples of inputs.

The law of declining marginal returns asserts that when an advantage is acquired in a production element, the marginal productivity will normally decrease as output grows. This indicates that the cost advantage declines with each new unit of production generated.

Examples Of the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity

In its simplest form, declining marginal productivity is found when a single input variable results in a decrease in input cost. A reduction in the labor expenses associated with producing an automobile, for instance, would result in marginally increased profitability per vehicle.

However, the rule of declining marginal productivity predicts that managers will see diminishing productivity gains for each unit of output. This typically results in a decline in profitability per vehicle.

As marginal production declines, a benefit threshold may also be surpassed. Consider a farmer who uses fertilizer as an input in the process of cultivating corn. Each unit of applied fertilizer will only marginally boost output yield up to a certain level. At the threshold level, additional fertilizer has little effect on crop yield and may even be detrimental.

Consider a firm that receives a large volume of customers at particular times of the day. The company may expand the number of employees accessible to assist clients, but beyond a certain point, this would not raise overall sales and could possibly cause a decline.

Considerations for Economies of Scale

Scale economies can be examined with the law of declining marginal productivity. Economies of scale demonstrate that a company’s profit per unit of production tends to improve when it produces things in large numbers. Labor, power, and equipment utilization are only a few of the crucial production components involved in mass manufacturing.

Even after adjusting for these variables, economies of scale allow a corporation to create things at a lower relative cost per unit. Nevertheless, modifying production inputs advantageously will typically result in a decline in marginal productivity since each advantageous adjustment may only yield a limited amount of gain. According to economic theory, the advantage gained each extra unit produced declines rather than being constant.

Diseconomies of scale are also linked to diminishing marginal productivity. After exceeding a certain profit threshold, declining marginal productivity may result in a profit loss. If diseconomies of scale develop, there will be no improvement in unit cost as output grows. In contrast, there is no return on units created, and losses might accumulate as more units are manufactured.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

Marginal cost in economics is the entire cost of producing one more unit of output or product. The marginal product is the additional output produced by one more unit of input, such as a worker.

The relationship between marginal cost and marginal product is inverse: if one grows, the other decreases correspondingly and vice versa.

The link between marginal cost and marginal product may be explained by the law of diminishing returns, a fundamental economics concept. This rule asserts that when more resources or inputs are added to manufacturing, the cost per unit will initially decrease, then reach a minimum, and then begin to climb again.

A corporation may, for instance, add a new employee to its production processes. This additional employee contributes to the company’s increased output and may also boost marginal product.

After adding too many workers, however, employees may waste time waiting to utilize tools and equipment or just crowd one another, resulting in an increase in marginal cost.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

Due to the inverse connection between marginal product and marginal cost, marginal product will always reach its highest level exactly when marginal cost reaches its minimum.

The inverse is likewise true, when marginal output is at its lowest point while marginal cost reaches its highest point. The two are depicted as mirror reflections of one another graphically.

When marginal product is at its greatest conceivable level and marginal cost is at its lowest possible level, diminishing returns begin to set in and marginal cost begins to climb.

The marginal cost is equal to the cost of hiring an extra worker or adding a unit of input, divided by the marginal output of that worker or unit.

If each additional worker costs $10 USD and boosts output by 10 units, the marginal cost of a worker may be computed as $10 USD divided by 10 units: $1 USD per unit.

Due to production floor congestion, the tenth employee employed by the corporation still costs $10 USD, but he may only be able to create an additional five units. His marginal cost may be determined by dividing $10 by five units, or $2 per unit.

The law of diminishing returns explains this increase in marginal cost. It may be able to impact marginal cost and marginal product in the long term by increasing capacity and adding more machines, equipment, or floor space.

What Is Marginal Profit?

Profit gained by a company or individual when an extra or marginal unit is manufactured and sold. The marginal cost or profit associated with manufacturing the subsequent unit. The marginal product is the additional income received, whereas the marginal cost is the additional expense incurred to produce an additional unit.

The difference between marginal cost and marginal product (also known as marginal revenue) is the marginal profit. Managers benefit from marginal profit analysis since it assists in determining whether to expand production or halt it entirely at a point known as the shutdown point.

According to conventional economic theory, a company’s overall profits are maximized when marginal cost equals marginal income, or when marginal profit is precisely zero.

Understanding Marginal Profit

The marginal profit differs from average profit, net profit, and other metrics of profitability in that it considers the amount of money that may be generated by manufacturing one extra unit. It takes into consideration the volume of production since, as a company expands, its cost structure changes and, depending on economies of scale, profitability can either grow or decrease as output increases.

The term “economies of scale” refers to a situation in which the marginal profit rises as the scale of production grows. As scale expands beyond its planned capability, the marginal profit will eventually reach zero and ultimately turn negative. The company is now experiencing diseconomies of scale.

Thus, firms will prefer to expand production until marginal cost equals marginal product, at which point marginal profit will be equal to zero. When marginal cost and marginal product (revenue) are both zero, there is no incremental profit from creating an additional unit.

If a company’s marginal profit goes negative, its management may opt to reduce output, temporarily cease production, or exit the business if it looks that positive marginal profitability will not return.

How to Calculate Marginal Profit

The marginal cost (MCMC) is the cost of producing one extra unit, while the marginal revenue (MR) is the money generated from producing one additional unit.

Marginal profit (MP) = Marginal revenue (MR) – marginal cost (MCMC)

In contemporary microeconomics, companies in competition prefer to manufacture units until marginal cost equals marginal revenue (MCMC=MR), leaving the producer with virtually negative marginal profit.

In perfect competition, there is no place for marginal profits since competition will always drive the selling price down to marginal cost, and a business will function until marginal revenue equals marginal cost; hence, not only does MC = MP = price, but also MC = MP = price.

What Is the Connection between Marginal Cost and Marginal Product?

If a company cannot compete on price and operates at a marginal loss (negative marginal profit), it will halt manufacturing eventually. Profit maximization for a company happens when production reaches the point where marginal cost equals marginal revenue and marginal profit is zero.

Special Considerations

It is essential to highlight that marginal profit represents simply the profit received by producing one extra item and not the entire profitability of a business. In other words, a company should cease manufacturing when each additional unit begins to impair overall profitability.

The following variables contribute to marginal cost:

  • Cost of labor for supplies or raw materials
  • Interest on debt Taxes

Fixed expenditures, also known as sunk costs, should not be factored into the calculation of marginal profit, as these one-time expenses do not affect the profitability of manufacturing the following unit.

Construction of a manufacturing facility or the purchase of a piece of machinery are examples of sunk costs. The marginal profit analysis does not include sunk costs since it only considers the benefit from one additional unit generated and not the money spent on non-recoverable expenditures such as plant and equipment.

Psychologically, however, the inclination to incorporate fixed costs is difficult to resist, and analysts may fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy, resulting in incorrect and frequently costly management choices.

Obviously, in practice, many businesses optimize marginal profits to the point where they are always equal to zero. Due to technical frictions, regulatory and legal contexts, as well as knowledge delays and asymmetries, only a small number of markets truly approach ideal competition.

Managers of a company may be unaware of their marginal costs and revenues in real-time, necessitating that they frequently make production choices in retrospect and forecast the future. In addition, many businesses run below their maximum capacity utilization in order to ramp up production without interruption when demand increases.

Why Do Firms Care About Their Marginal Profit?

In order to maximize earnings, a company should manufacture as many units as feasible; but, as output increases, so will manufacturing expenses. The optimal level of production exists when marginal profit is zero, or when the marginal cost of producing one additional unit equals the marginal income it will generate. If marginal profit becomes negative as a result of expenses, output should be reduced.

When Should a Business Shut Down, When Considering Marginal Profit?

If marginal profit is negative at all stages of production, the wisest course of action for the company is likely to temporarily suspend all production rather than continue creating units at a loss.

What Are Economies of Scale?

Economies of scale relate to circumstances in which increasing output leads to a reduction in marginal costs. In such circumstances, the marginal profit will grow as more units are produced.


The marginal cost is the total cost of producing an additional unit of the product. Marginal cost is the amount of each dollar spent on production that generates an additional dollar of product.

The marginal product is the value of the additional unit of the product produced. Marginal product is the amount of each dollar spent on production that generates an additional dollar of product.

The relationship between marginal cost and marginal product can be expressed as follows:


In this equation, MC represents the marginal cost and MP is the marginal product.

This means that the incremental costs to produce an additional unit of the product are equal to the marginal cost plus the marginal product of the product.

5/5 - (1 vote)
Pat Moriarty
Follow me

Leave a Comment