What are Opportunity Costs?

Opportunity costs are a fundamental concept in economics, and understanding them is essential for making informed decisions. In short, an opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative that must be given up in order to pursue a certain action. This means that when you make a choice, you must give up something else in return.

For example, suppose you are deciding whether to invest in a new business or continue working your current job. The opportunity cost of investing in the new business would be the salary and benefits you would give up by leaving your current job.

Types of Opportunity Costs

There are two types of opportunity costs: explicit and implicit.

  1. Explicit Opportunity Costs

Explicit opportunity costs are the costs that are easily identifiable and quantifiable. These costs involve actual monetary transactions. For example, if you decide to go back to school, the tuition and textbooks you purchase would be considered explicit opportunity costs.

  1. Implicit Opportunity Costs

Implicit opportunity costs are the opportunity costs that are not easily identifiable or quantifiable. These costs involve the value of the opportunities that are given up but cannot be easily measured in monetary terms. For example, if you decide to start your own business, the implicit opportunity cost could be the time you would have spent with your family and friends.

The Importance of Opportunity Costs

Opportunity costs are important because they help individuals and businesses make better decisions. By considering the potential costs and benefits of different choices, individuals and businesses can make informed decisions that maximize their resources.

For example, if a business is considering whether to invest in a new product line or expand its current product line, it can use opportunity cost analysis to evaluate the potential benefits and costs of each option. By weighing the opportunity costs of each choice, the business can make an informed decision that maximizes its resources and profits.


Opportunity costs are a critical concept in economics that helps individuals and businesses make informed decisions. By understanding the value of the next best alternative that must be given up, individuals and businesses can make better decisions that maximize their resources and profits. Whether you are deciding whether to invest in a new business or expand an existing one, considering the opportunity costs involved is essential for making the right choice.

Caroline Grimm

Caroline Grimm is an accounting educator and a small business enthusiast. She holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration. She is the author of 13 books and the creator of Accounting How To YouTube channel and blog. For more information visit: https://accountinghowto.com/about/

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