Marginalism

Definition of 'Marginalism'


The study of marginal theories and relationships within economics. The key focus of marginalism is how much extra use is gained from incremental increases in the quantity of goods created, sold, etc. and how those measures relate to consumer choice and demand.

Marginalism covers such topics as marginal utility, marginal gain, marginal rates of substitution, and opportunity costs, within the context of consumers making rational choices in a market with known prices.

Investopedia explains 'Marginalism'


The idea of marginalism, and its value in establishing market prices as well as supply and demand patterns, was popularized by British economist Alfred Marshall in a publication dating back to 1890.

Marginalism is sometimes criticized as one of the "fuzzier" areas of economics, as much of what is proposed is hard to accurately measure, such as an individual consumers' marginal utility. Also, marginalism relies on the assumption of (near) perfect markets, which do not exist in the practical world. Still, the core ideas of marginalism are generally accepted by most economic schools of thought, and are still used by businesses and consumers to make choices and substitute goods.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Genuine Progress Indicator - GPI

    A metric used to measure the economic growth of a country. It is often considered as a replacement to the more well known gross domestic product (GDP) economic indicator. The GPI indicator takes everything the GDP uses into account, but also adds other figures that represent the cost of the negative effects related to economic activity (such as the cost of crime, cost of ozone depletion and cost of resource depletion, among others).
  2. Accelerated Share Repurchase - ASR

    A specific method by which corporations can repurchase outstanding shares of their stock. The accelerated share repurchase (ASR) is usually accomplished by the corporation purchasing shares of its stock from an investment bank. The investment bank borrows the shares from clients or share lenders and sells them to the company.
  3. Microeconomic Pricing Model

    A model of the way prices are set within a market for a given good. According to this model, prices are set based on the balance of supply and demand in the market. In general, profit incentives are said to resemble an "invisible hand" that guides competing participants to an equilibrium price. The demand curve in this model is determined by consumers attempting to maximize their utility, given their budget.
  4. Centralized Market

    A financial market structure that consists of having all orders routed to one central exchange with no other competing market. The quoted prices of the various securities listed on the exchange represent the only price that is available to investors seeking to buy or sell the specific asset.
  5. Balanced Investment Strategy

    A portfolio allocation and management method aimed at balancing risk and return. Such portfolios are generally divided equally between equities and fixed-income securities.
  6. Negative Carry

    A situation in which the cost of holding a security exceeds the yield earned. A negative carry situation is typically undesirable because it means the investor is losing money. An investor might, however, achieve a positive after-tax yield on a negative carry trade if the investment comes with tax advantages, as might be the case with a bond whose interest payments were nontaxable.
Trading Center