Price Elasticity of Demand – Short and Long Run

Readers Question: the Elasticity of demand for good is likely to be greater in the short run than in the long run true or false?

Elasticity of demand measures the responsiveness of demand to a change in price. See: Price Elasticity Demand 

  • Demand is price inelastic if a change in price causes a smaller % change in demand. This gives a low PED <1.
  • Demand is price elastic if a change in price causes a bigger % change in demand. This gives a high PED >1

Elasticity of Demand in Short Run

In the short run demand is likely to be more inelastic (low = less than 1).

If people are used to buying a good, then when the price goes up, they will tend to keep buying it out of habit. However, when they realise the price rise is permanent they will expend more energy and time in looking for alternatives. Therefore, over time, people are more likely to find alternatives.

Example – Windows

Also, if a firm like Microsoft increase price of windows operating system, in the short term demand is likely to be inelastic (people are used to using windows so continue to pay higher price) However, over time, people may get fed up with paying high price for windows and consider switching systems (e.g. Mac)

Also, the increase in price of windows should act as a signal (more profitable) to other firms to develop alternatives. If more alternatives come on the market, demand will become more elastic.

Price Elasticity of Demand for Petrol.

If the price of oil increases people with petrol cars will still buy petrol. However, over time people may increasingly start to buy cars which use alternative energy sources such as natural gas, hydrogen or solar panels. But it will take time to make the switch. Therefore, demand will be more elastic over time.

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6 Responses to Price Elasticity of Demand – Short and Long Run

  1. sehar September 19, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    first of all, i need a comprehensive topic about the long run vurses short run price elasticity of demand and supply

  2. sehar September 19, 2009 at 8:26 am #

    now my comment is that this site is exactly a marvellous one,,that aids a lot to the students

  3. sehar September 19, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    infact thats a query not a comment

  4. shamama April 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    i need a complete detail about elasticity of demand and tell me in short run or in long run elasticity of demand is elastic , unit elastic or inelastic

  5. cynthia June 4, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    assume that the price elasticity of demand for oil is 0.2 in the short run and 0.8 in the long run. to raise the price of oil by 10% in the short run,what must decreased in the quantity of oil? in the long run, to have 10% rise in the price, what must the decrease be?please help!

    • fols March 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      there would be a two per cent decrease in quantity demanded in the shortrun and an eight per cent decrease in quantity demanded in the longrun.