Indifference Curve Map


An indifference curve map is a set of indifference curves that represents a given utility function.

The indifference curve map represents the different levels of utility that an individual achieves when consuming different baskets of goods.

In effect, each indifference curve represents a combination of goods that deliver the same level of utility to the consumer. In this way, the indifference curve map reveals the benefit that can be achieved when we change (increase or decrease) the quantity of goods that are combined in the basket consumed.

Indifference Curve Map Chart

Next, we see a graph that represents a map of indifference curves.

As we can see, in the first quadrant (zone I), we have two goods, and as we move away from the origin a higher indifference curve is reached and a higher level of utility is achieved.

When we have two evils (products or services that deliver negative utility such as pollution), the level of utility increases as we get closer to the origin. In this way, the lowest utility curve is the one that provides greater utility to the consumer (See zone IV)

Now, if we have a good and a bad (as in zones II and III), the level of utility increases when we have a greater quantity of goods and a smaller quantity of evils.

It is also worth mentioning that when we have goods (not bad), increasing consumption increases utility to a point of satiety, where the consumer no longer wants to continue consuming (he is satisfied). In addition, as we consume more than one good, the additional utility that we obtain decreases, this phenomenon is called the Law of decreasing marginal utility.

Indifference Curve Map Properties

Here are three of the main features of the indifference curve map.

  • The indifference curves do not intersect each other.
  • The indifference curve map represents the preferences of a certain consumer. Consequently, the maps of two consumers do not have to be the same as each other. Consumers may have different preferences and tastes regarding goods and services
  • On a map there are an infinite number of indifference curves

Indifference curves

Each of the indifference curves shows the different combinations between two goods that report the same satisfaction to a person, and that are preferred over other combinations.

It is traced simply by asking an individual what combination of goods they prefer, for example: 10 pens and 5 pencils; 15 pens and 3 pencils; or 20 pens and 2 pencils. This individual is indifferent to any of these three options. Note that as one option increases, the other decreases. And given that when we have a lot of one and a little of the other, we will appreciate the one that we have the least (with a normal good). Continuing with the example, if we start with the first basket (5 pencils and 10 pens), to get 5 more pens, this individual will need 2 pencils. But in the next step, since he only has 3 pencils left, if we want him to remain indifferent, they will have to give him 5 pens for one pencil.

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