Circular Flow of Income Diagram

The Circular flow of income diagram models what happens in a very basic economy.
Circular Flow of Income


In the very basic model, we have two principal components of the economy:

  1. Firms. Companies who pay wages to workers and produce output.
  2. Households. Individuals who consume goods and receive wages from firms.

This circular flow of income also shows the three different ways that National Income is calculated.

  1. National Output. The total value of output produced by firms.
  2. National Income. (profit, dividends, income, wages, rent) This is the total income received by people in the economy. For example, firms have to pay workers to produce the output. Therefore income flows from firms to households.
  3. National Expenditure. Total amount spent on goods and services. For example, with wages from work, households can then buy goods produced by firms. Therefore, the spending goes back to firms.

This represents a simple economic model; it is a closed economy without any government intervention.

In the real world, it is more complicated. We also add two more components:

  1. Government. The government taxes firms and consumers, and then spend money, e.g. health care and education.
  2. Foreign sector. We sell exports abroad and buy imports. Therefore, there is a flow of money between one country and the rest of the world.

Withdrawals (W) into Circular Flow of Income

Withdrawals are items that take money out of the circular flow. This includes:

  • Savings (S) (money not used to finance consumption, e.g. saved in a bank)
  • Imports (M) (money sent abroad to buy foreign goods)
  • Taxes (T) (money collected by government, e.g. income tax and VAT)

Injections (J) into Circular Flow of Income

Spending that puts money into the circular flow of income.

  • Investment (I). Money invested by firms into purchasing capital stock.
  • Exports (X). Money coming from abroad to buy domestically produced goods.
  • Government spending (G). Government welfare benefits, spending on infrastructure.


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