Elasticity of Supply

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Definition of Elasticity of Supply:

The elasticity of supply is a measure of a company’s ability to increase or decrease production in response to a price change. It is also referred to as the price elasticity of supply.

Detailed Explanation:

Flexibility in the manufacturing process is an important factor in determining whether a company has an elastic or inelastic supply curve. Companies producing a good or service with an elastic supply can respond quickly to a change in price. The mathematical formula for elasticity of supply is: 

An elastic supply curve has a price elasticity of supply that exceeds one. Compare the supply curves below. The more inelastic supply curve is steeper and a change in price has a much smaller impact on the quantity supplied than for the elastic supply curve.



Factors that influence the elasticity of supply include:

Time: Long-term supply curves are more elastic than short-term curves because of the flexibility that time provides to respond to market changes. For example, assume a community experiences a sudden increase in rent. The increase may not generate an immediate increase in housing. It takes time for homeowners to up-fit apartments or build apartment buildings. 

Availability of Inputs: If a company needs to search or wait for inputs its supply is more inelastic than a company that has the inputs readily available. For example, compare a lawn mowing service with a hospital. The lawn mowing company would probably be able to hire additional workers in a few weeks since the work requires little skill. A hospital may take months to identify and negotiate with a highly qualified surgeon. In this case, the lawn mowing company has a more elastic supply curve than the hospital.


Ease of Storage: Some companies can increase their elasticity of supply by stockpiling parts or the final product so they can respond quickly to a price increase. Other companies do not have that flexibility. Producers that manufacture a good that is perishable or has an input that has a short shelf life are unable to store their final product or inventory parts as readily as other companies. 


Capacity: A company that has excess capacity has a more elastic supply curve than a company that is producing at capacity because it is much easier for it to increase production than it would be for a company near capacity that may need to hire more workers or purchase additional equipment to increase output.

Dig Deeper With These Free Lessons:

Price Elasticity of Supply - How Does a Producer Respond To a Price Change Supply - The Producer's Perspective
Factors of Production - The Required Inputs of Every Business
Price Elasticity of Demand - How Does a Consumer Respond to a Price Change

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