Marginal cost Definition & Meaning

production costs processes that result in pollution or other environmental waste are textbook examples of production that creates negative externalities. Imagine a company that manufactures high-quality exercise equipment. The company incurs both fixed costs and variable costs, and the company has additional capacity to manufacture more goods. Marginal cost includes all of the costs that vary with that level of production. For example, if a company needs to build an entirely new factory in order to produce more goods, the cost of building the factory is a marginal cost.

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The change in total expenses is the difference between the cost of manufacturing at one level and the cost of manufacturing at another. For example, management may be incurring $1,000,000 in its current process. Should management increase production and costs increase to $1,050,000, the change in total expenses is $50,000 ($1,050,000 – $1,000,000). Marginal Costmeans the cost of providing or consuming the next additional unit of a good or service at a given point in time. The total cost increases as the quantity of the product increases because larger quantities of production factors are required. For example, the economic decision of a physician practice to expand or reduce a particular service in response to a change in fixed payment rates will depend on the marginal cost of producing that service.


Absent the best solution of genuine competition, the regulators and MMUs who must protect consumers against unjust prices have a difficult challenge. And by figuring out your marginal cost, you can more accurately determine your margin vs. markup to better price your products and turn a profit. Before we look at some examples of marginal cost, let’s find out the cost of production for a typical business. In addition to marginal cost pricing, it’s vital you create a competitivecash flow analysis.

What do you mean by marginal cost?

Marginal cost is the additional cost incurred for producing one more unit of a good or service. It is the incremental cost of producing one more unit of a good or service, usually expressed as the cost per unit of output. It is calculated by taking the total cost of production and dividing it by the number of units produced.

He then has a number of variable costs such as staff, utility bills, and raw materials. Marginal cost is equal to the change in total cost divided by the change in the quantity of output produced. The marginal cost curve is the graphical representation of the relationship between the marginal cost and the quantity of output produced by this firm. Marginal cost is defined as the additional cost of producing one more unit of a good or service. For example, the table below depicts the production quantities and costs of a firm that produces orange juice. We can calculate the marginal cost using the following formula above, where ΔTC stands for the change in the total cost and ΔQ means the change in the quantity of output.

Study Sets

how to calculate marginal cost specific economies of scale characterize the cost effects of expanding each output separately while holding production levels of other outputs constant. The alternative adaptation is ray scale economies, which assumes a proportional increase in cost resulting from a simultaneous proportional increase in all outputs. Either construct may be appropriate; the choice depends on the context involved in the specific analysis. Each T-shirt you produce requires $5.00 of T-shirt and screen printing materials to produce, which are your variable costs. The marginal cost of production includes everything that varies with the increased level of production. For example, if you need to rent or purchase a larger warehouse, how much you spend to do so is a marginal cost.

  • When a company knows both its marginal cost and marginal revenue for various product lines, it can concentrate resources towards items where the difference is the greatest.
  • The distance of the beginning point of the SRTC above the origin represents the fixed cost – the vertical distance between the curves.
  • Choices about adoption must be based upon the point estimates of analysis such as an incremental NHB calculation.
  • In accounting and economics, the benefits of marginal costs may, theoretically, be infinite.
  • As a manufacturing process becomes more efficient or economies of scale are recognized, the marginal cost often declines over time.
  • It goes the opposite way when the marginal cost of (n+1)th is higher than average cost.

The purpose of analyzing marginal cost is to determine at what point an organization can achieve economies of scale to optimize production and overall operations. If the marginal cost of producing one additional unit is lower than the per-unit price, the producer has the potential to gain a profit. Marginal cost is the additional cost of producing a unit of additional goods or services most commonly used in manufacturing. This is calculated by dividing the change in cost by the change in quantity and is the result of fixed costs for items that have already been produced and variable costs that still need to be accounted for.

Total, average and marginal costs

The quantity is shown on the x-axis, whereas the marginal cost in dollars is given on the y-axis. With the marginal cost equation, we can find the per unit marginal cost of producing more products. That do not change with the production quantity, resulting in increased output. Marginal costing is important for both accounting and everyday management. It provides a basis for optimizing production levels to minimize the cost of goods sold . For example, a company starts by paying $100 to manufacture 100 product units.


In the first year of business, his total costs amount to $100,000, which include $80,000 of fixed costs and $20,000 of variable costs. Well, the marginal cost looks at the difference between two points of production. So how much extra does it cost to produce one unit instead of two units? The change in total cost is therefore calculated by taking away the total cost at point B from the total cost at point A.

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