Definition of Shortage and Scarcity
A shortage occurs whenever quantity demanded is greater than quantity supplied at the market price. More people are willing and able to buy the good at the current market price than what is currently available. When a shortage exists, the market is not in equilibrium. At equilibrium, the quantity demanded equals the quantity supplied at the market price.
The term ‘shortage‘ can be easily confused with scarcity, which is one of the underlying basic problems of economics. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is that scarcity is a naturally occurring limitation on the resource that cannot be replenished. A shortage is a market condition of a particular good at a particular price. Over time, the good will be replenished and the shortage condition resolved.
As we all know that a scarcity of services is caused by a limited number of people able to perform that service. Scarcity of goods is directly tied to the limit of resources and machines capabilities of converting said resources into goods.
The world is finite…there is only so much water, so much arable land, concrete materials, metals, etc. Add to that the need for these pieces of matter need to be transformed or transported by limited amounts of accessible energy, human or other wise might not always be this way but time is still scarce as are humans or machine… even with 7 billion of us, we can only make one choice at a time.
Many disequilibria in the economy can cause it. Examples are Inflation, bad planning, excess demand unmatched by adequate supply, speculations on future scarcity, or price hikes causing fearful buyibgv presently.
In the basis of Economics, resources are scarce, while wants/needs are various. The scarcity leads to costliness.
Then What Happens Once There Is Scarcity Of Resource Demanded
So the answer to the question above is that once there is scarcity of resources it will eventually lead to high or increase of demand for that resources.
Causes of Shortages
A shortage occurs when more people want to buy a good at the current market price than what is available. There are three main reasons why a shortage can occur:
- Increase in demand (outward shift in demand curve)
- Decrease in supply (inward shift in supply curve)
- Government intervention
It’s important to note that increases in demand or decreases in supply are not movements along the demand or supply curve. They are shifts in those curves due to other factors, not including price changing. For example, an increase in quantity demanded would be due to a decrease in price. A shift in demand may be due to a sudden market trend where everyone wakes up one morning all having to have a particular pair of shoes.
Example of Increased Demand
We all dread the heat waves that occur every summer. Temperatures soar into the triple digits, and we all have the same reaction – turn on the air conditioner! All of a sudden, the demand for energy increases. Most energy is scheduled the day prior at a market price. The unpredicted increase in demand for energy causes a shortage, also referred to as brownouts or blackouts.
The demand for energy is temporarily greater than the supply. This chart illustrates the shift in demand and how that results in shortage conditions on the basic market model. Before the shift in demand, the market price (P*) results in quantity demanded and quantity supplied of Q*. When the shift in demand (D to D prime) occurs, the quantity supplied at the market price P* remains at Qs, but the quantity demanded shifts out to Qd. The shortage is the difference between Qd and Qs, the quantity supplied and the quantity demanded with the shifted demand curve.
Example of Decreased Supply
This one is for all of you wine connoisseurs out there! We all love harvest season when wineries are gearing up to create some amazing new blends and bottles of wine. Grapes are a delicate fruit that need particular climate conditions to peak perfectly. Those climate conditions cannot always be controlled and one night of atypical freezing temperatures can ruin a grape crop. What do you think happens to the wine market when all the grape crops suffer? There is a huge shift in the supply of wine because there were not enough grapes to produce the typical quantity of cases that season.
When supply shifts in, as seen in this chart, a shortage condition exists. Producers were not able to supply enough wine to meet demand at the market price. At the market price of P*, the quantity demanded and quantity supplied before the shift is set at Q*. After the shift in supply from S to S prime, the quantity supplied decreases from Q* to Qs prime while the demand remains at Qd. The difference between Qd and Qs prime is the shortage amount at the market price.
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