Deadweight Loss


DEFINITION of 'Deadweight Loss'

The costs to society created by market inefficiency. Mainly used in economics, deadweight loss can be applied to any deficiency caused by an inefficient allocation of resources. Price ceilings (such as price controls and rent controls), price floors (such as minimum wage and living wage laws) and taxation are all said to create deadweight losses. Deadweight loss occurs when supply and demand are not in equilibrium.


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BREAKING DOWN 'Deadweight Loss'

Minimum wage and living wage laws can create a deadweight loss by causing employers to overpay for employees and preventing low-skilled workers from securing jobs. Price ceilings and rent controls can also create deadweight losses by discouraging production and decreasing the supply of goods, services or housing below what consumers truly demand. Consumers experience shortages and producers earn less than they would otherwise. Taxes are also said to create a deadweight loss because they prevent people from engaging in purchases they would otherwise make because the final price of the product will be above the equilibrium market price.

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