Difference Between Absolute and Comparative Advantage

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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Macroeconomics can be a headache for students. There are a lot of concepts to learn and a lot of data to track. However, it is important to understand macroeconomics because it affects our everyday lives.

In this article, we are going to talk about the differences between absolute and comparative advantage. We will also talk about how each concept affects a country’s economy.

Absolute Advantage Comparative Advantage
Is the ability of a country to produce a good or service at a lower cost than another country. Is the ability of a country to produce a good or service at a lower opportunity cost than another country.
Important for certain goods or services. Important for overall economic growth.
More important in terms of GDP. More important in terms of per capita GDP.

Difference Between Absolute and Comparative Advantage

Absolute advantage is the ability of a country to produce a good or service at a lower cost than another country. Comparative advantage is the ability of a country to produce a good or service at a lower opportunity cost than another country.

Example of absolute advantage: If country A can produce a widget at a lower cost than country B, then A has an absolute advantage in producing widgets.

Difference between a Bobcat and a M... x
Difference between a Bobcat and a Mountain Lion

Example of comparative advantage: If country A can produce a widget at a lower opportunity cost than country B, then A has a comparative advantage in producing widgets.

Lower opportunity cost refers to the ability to produce a good or service using fewer resources. Resources in this context can be things like time, money, or labor.

Example of a country with absolute advantage is China, while a country with comparative advantage is The United States.

Which one is more important?

Comparative advantage is more important because it takes into account the opportunity cost of producing a good or service. When a country can produce a good or service at a lower opportunity cost, that country has a comparative advantage in producing that good or service.

While absolute advantage might be important for certain goods or services, comparative advantage is more important for overall economic growth.

Economic growth can be measured in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) or per capita GDP. In terms of GDP, the larger the country’s economy, the more important the absolute advantage becomes. However, in terms of per capita GDP, the smaller the country’s economy, the more important comparative advantage becomes.

Countries such as China and India have a large absolute advantage in terms of GDP, but their per capita GDP is still relatively low. Countries such as Singapore and Switzerland have a small absolute advantage in terms of GDP, but their per capita GDP is high.

High GDP is not as important as high per capita GDP because it is the average person in the country that matters. High per capita GDP means that the average person in the country is doing well economically.

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