Allocative Efficiency

Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is Allocative Efficiency?

Allocative efficiency is the value of output where the cost of goods or services equals the marginal cost (MC) of production. It is reached when commodities and services are distributed according to consumer preferences and when the marginal cost and utility are equal.

Economics revolves around the central concern of allocation of limited resources. Efficient allocation and utilization of resources are important in framing free-market government policies, and increasing efficiency lead to profit maximization. This ensures optimum utilization of resources and delivers competitive market outcomes while preventing misallocation of resources and timely availability.

Key Takeaways

  • Allocative efficiency is the output level at which a good or service’s cost (P) and the marginal cost of production (MC) are equal (P=MC).
  • Based on the goods and services in high demand in the prevailing market conditions, it helps businesses select the most efficient ways to distribute resources like labor and raw materials to maximize customer advantages. 
  • One calculates it when companies use demand estimates to satisfy future demands.
  • The efficiency is deemed allocative only after meeting the Pareto optimum.

Allocative Efficiency Explained

Allocative Efficiency

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Allocative Efficiency is the level of output at which a good or service’s cost (P) is equal to its marginal cost (MC) of production (P=MC). It is obtained when goods and services are distributed in response to consumer requests. One can reach the allocation efficiency if those goods and services’ marginal cost and marginal utility are equal.

Efficiency is a key concern in economics. It also prevents misallocation of resources and timely availability according to the requirements. When one maximizes the efficiency, there is profit maximization. Therefore, private and government organizations select the best options through efficient allocation to ensure profit. Two fundamental welfare theorems helps us to understand economic efficiency and competitive market outcomes. These then help to analyze the allocation efficiency. First fundamental welfare theorem: Any competitive market equilibrium is allocatively efficient in an exchange economy where customers are price takers. Second fundamental welfare theorem: Given suitable beginning endowments, an efficient allocation is a competitive equilibrium in certain circumstances.

If no reallocation among customers is possible without making at least one consumer worse off (better than the other), then the allocation is Pareto efficiency. Allocative efficiency is what economists refer to as Pareto optimality. Resource allocative efficiency is allocatively efficient only after meeting the Pareto optimality. Problems arise when the given allocation is not efficient. Then, everyone could be made better off by shifting to a different set of allocations.

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There is no particular formula to derive allocative efficiency. It is, however, represented as P=MC, where P is the price of goods and services and MC is the marginal cost. Marginal cost describes the rise or fall in price associated with producing or providing services to an additional consumer. It is also referred to as incremental cost. One should consider certain when calculating allocation efficiency.

Estimation of production costs

One should make an estimation of the cost it takes to produce the product or service. Along with it, they should also consider the change in price by the number of additional units. The more accurate the estimation of project cost is, the more effectively one can do the charting of marginal cost and the identification of allocative resource efficiency.

Demand data analysis

Any product or service launch must succeed an analysis of market demand for such services or products. Marginal demand represents the demand for the product and the price a consumer is willing to pay for it. When there is production of more units, the charge for selling all units goes down.

Chart graphs

Charts allow the prediction of allocative efficiency through the point of equilibrium. They also help demonstrate the changing market conditions on the change of production limits. It pinpoints the intersection where the marginal benefit curve crosses the marginal supply curve. Perfection estimation allows for a reduction of losses.


Suppose ABC ltd wants to produce shoes; the output of 10 shoes has a marginal cost of $50. However, the consumer is willing to pay a high amount of $150 for good-quality shoes. Here, the marginal utility derived by the consumers is higher than the company’s marginal cost. When the optimal output level changes to 20, the marginal cost equals marginal utility. This is because output at 10 makes the product under-consumed by the market. The increment to 20 will increase the production but make the price fall to $100. Hence we reach allocation efficiency, making the society benefit from consuming more of the shoes from ABC ltd.

The graphical representation of Allocative efficiency in economics is as follows :

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When does it occur?

Allocative efficiency occurs when the production costs of output are equal to the value of marginal cost. The determination happens when businesses try to meet future demands using demand projections. It enables enterprises to choose the most effective ways to distribute resources like labor and raw materials to maximize customer benefits based on the goods and services that have high demand in the current market conditions. In addition, it happens when production and consumption are mutually beneficial because production costs reflect the benefit given to the customer.

Allocative efficiency vs. Productive efficiency

Allocative efficiency vs. productive efficiency is a misunderstood concept. Even though they are both concerned with utilizing resources in the optimum way possible, they are different concepts. Productive efficiency concerns the best way to produce commodities and how to do so efficiently. The most effective distribution of goods and services is what allocation efficiency is.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does tax affect allocative efficiency?

Taxes, especially Excise taxes, can be used to try to enhance resource allocation, especially if there are market imperfections present (in the form of negative externalities) that limit the achievement of allocative efficiency.

How to calculate allocative efficiency?

There is no formula to calculate; however, certain points such as estimating production costs, demand data analysis, and chart graph preparations can help. It is achieved when the prices of goods or services meet their marginal costs, especially when consumer demands (their needs and wants) are integrated.

What is allocative efficiency in perfect competition?

Price and the marginal cost of production are identical in a market with perfect competition. Therefore, allocation efficiency is a point on the potential production frontier selected because it is generally preferable (following consumer preferences).

Can productive and allocative efficiency occur together?

Productive and allocative efficiency economics concepts can be related. Productive efficiency establishes a baseline for assessing the competitiveness of the goods and services market outcomes. Any decrease in output from this efficient level leads to a reduction in allocative efficiency.

This is a guide to Allocative efficiency and its meaning. We discuss formula, chart graphs, example and its comparison with productive efficiency. You can learn more from the following articles –

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