Why is economic growth important to an economy?

The greatest benefit of economic growth is a rise in the living standards. This is provided economic growth exceeds population growth, real GDP per capita will rise  a higher level of consumption of goods and services.

Rapid economic growth rate makes it easier to redistribute income to the poor (lower income group). When there is economic growth  income rises, the government can redistribute income from the upper income group to the lower income group without the need to raise tax rates, i.e. without penalising the
high income earners  the rich pays more taxes. In addition, economic growth  firms’ profit level rises  pays more corporate tax  a positive effect on government finances  boosting tax revenues and providing the government with extra funds to spent on programmes to alleviate poverty and close the income gap between the rich and poor.


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Cigarettes is a type of demerit good as it exhibits negative externalities from consumption. They are deemed to be socially undesirable. Negative externalities refer to incidental costs to third parties that are not taken into account by those who are involved in the activity.

A smoker will only take into account his private costs (price of the packet of cigarettes and own smoking-related health problems) and private benefits (satisfaction derived from smoking).

However, he does not consider the negative externalities that would be generated by his smoking (smoking-related health problems on passive smokers, costs incurred to society for having to provide healthcare for smoking-related health problems as well as clearing and maintenance costs for the litter).

The social cost from undertaking the activity is the private cost faced by the smoker as well as external costs accruing to third parties. Negative externalities will lead to divergence of private cost and social cost. With the presence of negative externalities, social cost will be greater than private cost.

Market failure is likely to exist because the negative externality is underpriced by the price mechanism. If cigarettes were provided through the free market, social costs of smoking exceed the private costs. Private optimum occurs at Qe where PMB (the benefit to the individuals of smoking the last unit of cigarette) equals PMC (the cost to the individual of smoking the last unit of cigarette).

The socially efficient level is where SMC=SMB i.e. at output Qs. Therefore, there are too many scare resources devoted to the consumption of cigarettes. There will be over-consumption of cigarettes because society values an extra unit of cigarette less than what it would cost society to produce it. Shaded area represents the welfare loss to society as a result of this over-allocation of resources. Society as a whole could be made better off if the current level of cigarettes were reduced to socially efficient level. (Qs)

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Economics Essay Question: Explain possible factors that could affect the price of private property.

Demand factors

  • Increase in population size due to influx of foreigners: as there are now more buyers in the market for private property, demand is likely to have increased, leading to higher price
  • Income level: as economies begin to recover from the global crisis, it is likely that consumers’ incomes will increase. With the increase in income, demand for normal goods and luxury goods – such as private property – would increase. As demand for private property is likely to be income elastic – given that private property can be viewed as a luxury good and buyers are likely to spend a large proportion of their income on it – the increase in demand following the recovery may be substantial leading to higher price
  • Ease of securing housing loans and low interest rates: As home buyers are highly likely to require a loan for purchase of property, low interest rates would mean low cost of borrowing and that could increase demand for property leading to higher price

Supply factors

  • Increase in developers’ cost of production (e.g. higher sand cost) and can lead to a fall in supply leading to higher price
  • Expectations of future developments in property market:
    • With a positive outlook of the global economy, developers may wish to increase supply of property in future, which can leading to lower price
    • With higher competition from rival developers and the need to undertake product differentiation which is likely to be costly, the increase in supply may be moderated.

Deflation is the sustained fall in general price level. Government will be more concerned with deflation if the deflation is caused by a fall in aggregate demand during economic recessions.

For Singapore, a worldwide recession is likely to cause a fall in exports and hence a fall in in aggregate demand. This will result in a leftward shift in the AD causing the general price level to fall and also a fall in the real GDP. As demand for goods and services fall, firms will cut back on their production and this will lead to a fall in the demand for labour. Producers will start to retrench workers and this will lead to a rise in cyclical unemployment. To the producers, lower prices also cause uncertainties to the firms and firms will start hold back on investment resulting in a further fall in aggregate demand and higher unemployment.

Consumers, on the other, will benefit from the lower prices in the short run. Lower prices will allow consumers to buy more goods and services. There will be redistribution of income caused by a fall in general price level. To the saver, their savings will also increase in real value. This will increase their material standard of living. Fixed income earners will now enjoy higher real income and hence higher purchasing power to consume.

Borrowers, on the other hand, will lose out as they have to repay their loans that have an increasing real value. However, in the long run, if prices continue to fall, consumers will hold back their consumption in anticipation of further fall in prices. This will result in firms cutting back on production and hence a fall in AD which results in higher unemployment. With lower or no income, consumers will cut back on consumption and this will result in a deflationary spiral which worsens the country’s economic growth and rising unemployment, thus penalizing consumers.

To the government, lower prices creates uncertainties and will affect consumers and investors’ confidence hence affecting the government’s ability to achieve macroeconomic objectives such as sustained economic growth and low unemployment. Foreign firms are less willing to invest in the country given the bleak outlook and this will affect the country’s capital account and balance of payments. Government also collects less tax revenue with falling incomes and profits and spend more on unemployment or welfare benefits which may end up worsening the budget balance. Lower tax revenue will also mean less expenditure on merit and public goods which will affect the citizens’ standard of living.

In conclusion, it is important for the government to identify the cause of deflation and assess the impact on the economy and finally implement appropriate policies to manage the economy when faced with deflation.

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