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Study Notes

Complete and Partial Market Failure

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 14 Oct 2017

Most markets fail to achieve a socially optimum allocation of scarce resources. But we can make an important distinction between complete market failure and partial market failure.

Complete market failure - when the market does not supply products at all – there is a missing market
Example: Pure public goods
There is a missing market in the provision of public goods

Partial market failure - when the market functions but it supplies either the wrong quantity of a product or at the wrong price
Example: Negative externalities from production

Most market failures covered in A level Economics are partial  - involving a deadweight loss of social welfare

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