Marginal Utility

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DEFINITION of 'Marginal Utility'

The additional satisfaction a consumer gains from consuming one more unit of a good or service. Marginal utility is an important economic concept because economists use it to determine how much of an item a consumer will buy. Positive marginal utility is when the consumption of an additional item increases the total utility. Negative marginal utility is when the consumption of an additional item decreases the total utility.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Marginal Utility'

For example, if you were really thirsty you'd get a certain amount of satisfaction from a glass of water. This satisfaction would probably decrease with the second glass, and then decrease even more with the third glass. The additional amount of satisfaction that comes with each additional glass of water is marginal utility.

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