This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.
This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.
View Full Document
Unformatted text preview: Chapter 4 NAME Utility Introduction. In the previous chapter, you learned about preferences and indiFerence curves. Here we study another way of describing preferences, the utility function . A utility function that represents a person’s preferences is a function that assigns a utility number to each commodity bundle. The numbers are assigned in such a way that commodity bundle ( x,y ) gets a higher utility number than bundle ( x ,y ) if and only if the consumer prefers ( x,y ) to ( x ,y ). If a consumer has the utility function U ( x 1 ,x 2 ), then she will be indiFerent between two bundles if they are assigned the same utility. If you know a consumer’s utility function, then you can ±nd the indiFerence curve passing through any commodity bundle. Recall from the previous chapter that when good 1 is graphed on the horizontal axis and good 2 on the vertical axis, the slope of the indiFerence curve passing through a point ( x 1 ,x 2 ) is known as the marginal rate of substitution . An important and convenient fact is that the slope of an indiFerence curve is minus the ratio of the marginal utility of good 1 to the marginal utility of good 2. ²or those of you who know even a tiny bit of calculus, calculating marginal utilities is easy. To ±nd the marginal utility of either good, you just take the derivative of utility with respect to the amount of that good, treating the amount of the other good as a constant. (If you don’t know any calculus at all, you can calculate an approximation to marginal utility by the method described in your textbook. Also, at the beginning of this section of the workbook, we list the marginal utility functions for commonly encountered utility functions. Even if you can’t compute these yourself, you can refer to this list when later problems require you to use marginal utilities.) Example: Arthur’s utility function is U ( x 1 ,x 2 ) = x 1 x 2 . Let us ±nd the indiFerence curve for Arthur that passes through the point (3 , 4). ²irst, calculate U (3 , 4) = 3 × 4 = 12. The indiFerence curve through this point consists of all ( x 1 ,x 2 ) such that x 1 x 2 = 12. This last equation is equivalent to x 2 = 12 /x 1 . Therefore to draw Arthur’s indiFerence curve through (3 , 4), just draw the curve with equation x 2 = 12 /x 1 . At the point ( x 1 ,x 2 ), the marginal utility of good 1 is x 2 and the marginal utility of good 2 is x 1 . Therefore Arthur’s marginal rate of substitution at the point (3 , 4) is − x 2 /x 1 = − 4 / 3. Example: Arthur’s uncle, Basil, has the utility function U ∗ ( x 1 ,x 2 ) = 3 x 1 x 2 − 10. Notice that U ∗ ( x 1 ,x 2 ) = 3 U ( x 1 ,x 2 ) − 10, where U ( x 1 ,x 2 ) is Arthur’s utility function. Since U ∗ is a positive multiple of U minus a constant, it must be that any change in consumption that increases U will also increase U ∗ (and vice versa). Therefore we say that Basil’s utility function is a monotonic increasing transformation of Arthur’s utility function. Let of Arthur’s utility function....
View
Full
Document
This note was uploaded on 10/06/2010 for the course MICRO micro 121 taught by Professor Sadeek during the Fall '10 term at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
 Fall '10
 sadeek

Click to edit the document details