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Microeconomics is an economic theory concerned with the actions of individuals, businesses, or modern households under certain economic conditions. The applications of microeconomics are vast, though they may not always be accurate as it is difficult to mimic the conditions of a real individual. For example, most applications of microeconomics demand a fictional individual as the center of various studies. This individual — homo economicus — is rational when making decisions given certain data. Though somewhat unrealistic in principle, economists can make assumptions based on substitutions, equilibrium, and competition in a market.
Substitution is a broad economic concept when discussed in terms of the many applications of microeconomics. For example, producers may make substitutions in terms of machines versus workers. If a producer swaps a machine for two workers in order to achieve a specific output, the effects of such a substitution is of vast importance for the company. Additionally, substitution in terms of quality inputs is also of concern in microeconomic theory. Theories usually concern themselves with the effects of lower-quality goods on the company’s production costs and potential consumer response.
Equilibrium is one of the most common and perhaps well-known aspects of economics, both in micro and macro applications. The applications of microeconomics look at equilibrium on a per-product level rather than an entire market level in most cases. Price is the most important factor in supply-and-demand equilibrium, so any internal factor that affects the cost of goods can affect price and equilibrium on a product level. Microeconomics can create a supply-and-demand chart for each good produced. Then, an aggregate chart is computed to determine how all goods produced affect the overall equilibrium for a company.
Competition is another important factor in the applications of microeconomics. It allows consumers to choose different producers when purchasing a product. Economists use microeconomics to determine what factors play roles in a consumer’s choice when selecting one product or company over another when making a purchase. Perfect competition indicates that no one firm dominates the market, giving consumers several choices. Imperfect competition presents another market type, where a large producer dominates the market in price or production.
How consumers react to these and other given conditions is the crux of microeconomic applications. Economists use this information to understand how to best approach the needs of consumers. Armed with this data, producers can attempt to blanket the market with goods in order to reach an internal equilibrium point.