How to Find Marginal Cost: 11 Steps with Pictures

how to find marginal cost

Let’s put that last concept in reverse—what causes marginal revenue to increase? The less money the company is using to produce more products, the more profits it can retain. Marginal revenue is an important business metric because it is a measure of revenue increases from increases in sales. When marginal costs exceed marginal revenue, a business isn’t making a profit and may need to scale back production.

What is marginal cost answers?

The marginal cost refers to the increase in production costs generated by the production of additional product units. It is also known as the marginal cost of production. Calculating the marginal cost allows companies to see how volume output influences cost and hence, ultimately, profits.

Begin by entering the starting number of units produced and the total cost, then enter the future number of units produced and their total cost. To determine the change in costs, simply deduct the production costs incurred during the first output run from the production costs in the next batch when output has increased. Marginal cost is the expenses needed to manufacture one incremental good. As a manufacturing process becomes more efficient or economies of scale are recognized, the marginal cost often declines over time. However, there is often a point in time where it may become incrementally more expensive to produce one additional unit.


At each production level, the total cost of production may witness a surge or decline based on whether there is a need to increase or decrease production volume. Suppose the production of additional units warrants an increase in the purchase cost of raw materials and requires hiring an additional workforce. In economics, the marginal cost is the change in total production cost that comes from making or producing one additional unit. To calculate marginal cost, divide the change in production costs by the change in quantity.

If the cost of producing an additional unit is lower than the current selling price, it might be beneficial to increase production. It’s essential to understand that the marginal cost can change depending on the level of production. Initially, due to economies of scale, the marginal cost might decrease as the number of units produced increases.

Why is the marginal cost equation important?

Marginal cost is different from average cost, which is the total cost divided by the number of units produced. At each level of production and during each time period, costs of production may increase or decrease, especially when the need arises to produce more or less volume of output. If manufacturing additional units requires hiring one or two additional workers and increases the purchase cost of raw materials, then a change in the overall production cost will result. Total cost, fixed cost, and variable cost each reflect different aspects of the cost of production over the entire quantity of output being produced. In contrast, marginal cost, average cost, and average variable cost are costs per unit.

  • Such production creates a social cost curve that is below the private cost curve.
  • Before doing an example involving marginals, there’s one more piece of business to take care of.
  • Recall that marginal cost, which we introduced on the previous page, is the additional cost of producing one more unit of output.
  • Marginal cost highlights the premise that one incremental unit will be much less expensive if it remains within the current relevant range.
  • Marginal cost is a production and economics calculation that tells you the cost of producing additional items.

Examples include a social cost from air pollution affecting third parties and a social benefit from flu shots protecting others from infection. The concept of marginal cost can be difficult for business owners to understand. However, understanding how to calculate marginal cost is essential to good forecasting and business management. With that in mind, we’ve created a step-by-step guide detailing everything from the importance of marginal costs and formula examples.

Figure out the change in total cost

Since fixed costs do not vary with (depend on) changes in quantity, MC is ∆VC/∆Q. Thus if fixed cost were to double, the marginal cost MC would not be affected, and consequently, the profit-maximizing quantity and price would not change. This can be illustrated by graphing the short run total cost curve and the Bookkeeping Pricing Packages & Plans short-run variable cost curve. Each curve initially increases at a decreasing rate, reaches an inflection point, then increases at an increasing rate. The only difference between the curves is that the SRVC curve begins from the origin while the SRTC curve originates on the positive part of the vertical axis.

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  • For instance, in the hat example—if the first batch of hats cost $100 to make but the second batch cost $200 to make, the company is now in a tough spot.
  • Variable cost is only a component of marginal cost, but is usually a key component.
  • It’s used when a business has excess capacity in manufacturing or another justification.
  • It’s because marginal cost affects variable cost, but it does not affect fixed 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. The marginal cost curve intersects the average total cost curve exactly at the bottom of the average cost curve—which occurs at a quantity of 72 and cost of $6.60 in Figure 1. The reason why the intersection occurs at this point is built into the economic meaning of marginal and average costs. The point of transition, between where MC is pulling ATC down and where it is pulling it up, must occur at the minimum point of the ATC curve.

Batch Cost

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. For some businesses, per unit costs actually rise as more goods or services are produced. Imagine a company that has reached its maximum limit of production volume.

For example, the company above manufactured 24 pieces of heavy machinery for $1,000,000. The increased production will yield 25 total units, so the change in quantity of units produced is one ( ). The marginal cost intersects with the average total cost and the average variable cost at their lowest point. Take the [Relationship between marginal cost and average total cost] graph as a representation.

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