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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RELATED FAQS
  1. How do businesses calculate their marginal utility?

    Strictly speaking, businesses do not experience marginal utility like individuals do. Companies are made up of people, and ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do economists and psychologists calculate diminishing marginal utility differently?

    Some economists and psychologists agree on marginal utility, while others disagree. The universal applicability of the law ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What does the law of diminishing marginal utility explain?

    In economics, the law of diminishing marginal utility states that the marginal utility of a good or service declines as its ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between marginal utility and marginal benefit?

    Marginal utility describes the benefit that one economic actor receives from consuming one additional unit of a good, while ... Read Full Answer >>
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