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 Chapter 7 - Market Structures

1 - Perfect competition describes a market with many buyers and sellers of the same good.

2-  A firm has a monopoly when it controls an entire market.

3. Most markets fall into one of two categories: monopolistic competition or oligopoly.




The simplest market structure to study is one known as perfect competition. In such a market, every firm produces the same product for about the same price. Because each firm produces a small part of the total supply, no one firm can control the price. In order to have perfect competition a market must meet four conditions. It must have many buyers and sellers participating. Sellers must offer identical products. Buyers and sellers must be well informed about the products. Sellers must be able to enter and leave the market easily. Only a few industries come close to meeting these conditions. Two examples are the market for farm products and the stocks traded on a stock exchange.



Perfectly competitive markets are efficient. The intense competition in these markets keeps both prices and production costs low. A firm that raised its prices higher than other firms, or experienced higher production costs, would not be able to compete.

Factors that make it difficult for new firms to enter a market are called barriers to entry. Common barriers to entry include start-up costs and technology.

Start-up costs are the expenses an owner has to pay before opening a new business.For example, before starting a new sandwich shop you would have to rent a store, buy cooking equipment, and print menus. Other businesses require technical ability.  Carpenters, pharmacists, or electricians need training before they can have the skills they need.


Costs for a startup business can be divvied up into six major categories:

  • Cost of sales: Product inventory, raw materials, manufacturing equipment, shipping, packaging, shipping insurance, warehousing
  • Professional fees: Setting up a legal structure for your business (e.g. LLC, corporation), trademarks, copyrights, patents, drafting partnership and non-disclosure agreements, attorney fees for ongoing consultation, retaining an accountant
  • Technology costs: Computer hardware, computer software, printers, cell phones, PDAs, website development and maintenance, high-speed internet access, servers, security measures, IT consulting
  • Administrative costs: Various types of business insurance, office supplies, licenses and permits, express shipping and postage, product packaging, parking, rent, utilities, phones, copier, fax machine, desks, chairs, filing cabinets – anything else you need to have on a daily basis to operate a business
  • Sales and marketing costs:Printing of stationery, marketing materials, advertising, public relations, event or trade show attendance or sponsorship, trade association or chamber of commerce membership fees, travel and entertainment for client meetings, mailing or lead lists
  • Wages and benefits: Employee salaries, payroll taxes, benefits, workers compensation




A monopoly  is a market dominated by a single seller. Instead of many buyers and sellers, as is the case with perfect competition, a monopoly has one seller and any number of buyers. Barriers to entry make monopolies possible. Monopolies can take advantage of their monopoly power and charge high prices. For this reason, the United States has outlawed monopolistic practices in most industries. The government allows monopolies in certain industries.


A natural monopoly is a market that runs most efficiently when one large firm provides all the output. In the local telephone industry, a monopoly developed because it was inefficient for more than one company to build an expensive wire network. In such cases, the government may give one company the right to dominate a geographic area. In return, that company will agree to let the government control its prices.




The government can also grant monopoly power by issuing patents or licenses. A patent  gives a company exclusive rights to sell a new good or service for a specific time period.

nikon headmount display device patent New Nikon patents (US update)


A license is a government issued right to operate a business. Radio licenses give a station the right to broadcast at a certain frequency. Unlike firms in perfectly competitive markets, monopolists have control over prices. However, the law of  demand means that when the monopolist raises the price, it will sell fewer goods. So the monopolist sets a price that maximizes its profit. This usually means fewer goods, at a higher price, than would be sold in a more competitive market.





Perfect competition and monopoly are the two extremes in the range of market structures. Most markets fall into two other categories: monopolistic competition and oligopoly. Monopolistic competitionis a market in which many companies sell products that are similar but not identical. For example, jeans can differ in brand, style, and color. Ice cream differs in taste and flavors. These markets are called monopolistic competition because each firm has a kind of monopoly over its own particular product. Monopolistic competition exists in industries where there are low barriers to entry. Firms that are monopolistically competitive have slight control over their prices, because they offer products that are slightly different from any other company’s. They also use nonprice

competition, or competition through ways other than lower prices, to compete.  They may offer new colors, textures, or tastes in their products. They may also try to find the best location for their services.



Oligopolyis a market dominated by a  few large firms. It can form when significant barriers to entry exist. Examples of oligopolies in the United States include air travel, cola, breakfast cereals and household appliances


. Oligopolistic firms sometimes use illegal practices to set prices or to reduce competition. They may engage in price fixing, an agreement among firms to sell at the same or very similar prices. Price fixing is illegal in the United States and can lead to heavy penalties



-----------------------------------------------------------7-4 REGULATION AND DEREGULATION - The federal government tries to promote competition through antitrust laws and deregulation.






















































































































































































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