What Is a Factor Market?

"Factor market" is a term economists use for all of the resources that businesses use to purchase, rent, or hire what they need in order to produce goods or services. Those needs are the factors of production, which include raw materials, land, labor, and capital.

The factor market is also called the input market. By this definition, all markets are either factor markets, where businesses obtain the resources they need, or goods and services markets, where consumers make their purchases.

  • In the view of economists, there are only two markets: the factor market and the goods and services market.
  • They also can be called the input market and the output market.
  • The input market supplies the resources needed to make finished products.
  • The output market buys and uses the finished products.
  • The factor market is driven by demand in the goods and services market.

Understanding a Factor Market

A factor market is termed an input market, while the market for finished products or services is an output market. This can be viewed as a closed-loop flow: In the factor market, households are sellers and businesses are buyers, while in the goods and services market, businesses are sellers and households are buyers.

Workers are participating in the factor market when they make their services available to businesses. An individual member of a household who is looking for a job is participating in the factor market. An employee's wages are a component of the factor market, but the money will be spent in the goods and services market.

The factor market provides every component required to produce goods and services.

In the appliance manufacturing industry, workers who are skilled in refrigerator and dishwasher assembly are considered to be part of the factor market when they are available for hire. In the modern world, job search websites are part of the factor market.

Similarly, raw materials like steel and plastic—both of which are used to build refrigerators and dishwashers—are also examples of factor market products.

Anything used in the creation of a finished product—labor, raw materials, capital, or land—is an element of the factor market.

Flow of a Factor Market

The combination of the factor markets and the goods and services market forms a closed loop for the flow of money. Households supply labor to companies, which pay them wages that are then used to buy goods and services from companies.

The goods and services market drives the factor market. When consumers demand more goods and services, manufacturers increase their purchases of the resources used to make those goods and services. Factor market producers, in turn, step up production of the raw materials that the manufacturers need.

Free Markets in a Factor Economy

The factor market is one of the defining characteristics of a market economy.

Traditional models of socialism are characterized by the replacement of factor markets, which respond to the dictates of supply and demand, with central economic planning, which dictates supply and assigns resources accordingly.

The assumption of socialism is that market exchanges are redundant within the production process if capital goods are owned by a single entity representing the interests of the society as a whole.

A market economy has three components: the factor market at one end, the consumers market at the other end, and, in between, the producers—the companies that create the products we use.

Monopoly and Monopsony in the Factor Economy

A monopoly exists when there is only a single producer or seller of a product or service to serve many buyers. A monopsony is the opposite: there are many producers but only one buyer.

Both are considered examples of market failures. The law of supply and demand can't work efficiently in either situation because of a lack of competition.

This has particular relevance to the labor component of the factor market. An employee has no bargaining power in a town where there is only one possible employer. Moreover, a consumer faced with one brand has no choice but to pay the price demanded and accept the quality offered.

A monopoly has an equally destructive effect in the factor market. A single supplier is under no pressure to cut prices, innovate, or even excel.

Monopoly and monopsony are seen as disturbing the equilibrium of a factor market, which depends on competition to work efficiently.

Factor Market FAQs

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about the factor market.

Why Are Factor Markets Important?

A market economy can't exist without three interdependent components: the factor market at one end, the goods and services market at the other end, and, in between, the producers—the companies that create the products we use.

The producers obtain what they need in the factor market, produce finished products, and sell them to end-users. The end-users, by their actions, create and sustain demand for raw materials that are then made available by the factor market in order to supply the producers. This is known as derived demand.

The factor market responds to demand, and the cycle continues.

How Do Supply and Demand Impact Factor Markets?

The factor market is driven by demand in the product market. The resources needed to produce goods and services are created or obtained in sufficient quantities to satisfy demand in the product market.

In effect, the consumer market dictates the factor market.

What Transactions Take Place in a Factor Market?

In the factor market, businesses are the buyers. They may buy, rent, or hire raw materials, land, or labor. Whatever a business needs in order to build, package, and deliver the products or services they provide must be obtained in the factor market.

The sellers include producers of raw materials. However, every individual who has a job is a participant in the factor market. The skills and labor that the person is offering in return for compensation is a product that is made available in the factor market.

What Are the Types of Factor Market?

Economists generally divide the factor market into four components:

  • The labor market, in which people make themselves available for hire
  • Capital, or money, which is available as business loans or investment
  • The land market, which is widely defined to include all the natural resources
  • Entrepreneurship, the creators of companies

These are the factors of production.