What is a Marginal Cost?

Marginal costs refer to the incremental cost of producing one additional unit of a product or service. It is the cost of the resources required to produce one more unit of output. Marginal costs are essential in the decision-making process of businesses, as it helps them determine the optimal level of production and pricing strategies.

Here is a breakdown of the key concepts related to marginal costs:

What are marginal costs?

Marginal costs are the costs associated with producing an additional unit of output. It considers the costs of producing each additional unit, including the cost of raw materials, labor, and other variable costs.

How are marginal costs calculated?

The formula for calculating marginal cost is as follows:

Marginal Cost = Change in Total Cost / Change in Quantity

For instance, if the cost of producing 10 units is $1,000 and the cost of producing 11 units is $1,100, then the marginal cost of producing one additional unit is $100 ($1,100 – $1,000 = $100).

Why are marginal costs important?

Marginal costs are crucial in the decision-making process of businesses as they help determine the optimal level of production. A company must balance the costs of producing an additional unit of output against the benefits of selling that unit. By calculating the marginal cost, a company can decide whether to increase or decrease production levels.

What is marginal revenue?

Marginal revenue is the additional revenue generated from selling one additional unit of output. It is calculated by dividing the change in total revenue by the change in the quantity of output sold.

What is marginal profit?

Marginal profit is the difference between the marginal revenue and the marginal cost of producing an additional unit. It is calculated by subtracting the marginal cost from the marginal revenue.

How can marginal costs be used in pricing strategies?

By knowing the marginal costs, a company can determine the most profitable price to charge for its product or service. The optimal price is the one that maximizes the profit margin between the price and the marginal cost.

What are the limitations of using marginal costs?

While marginal costs are a useful tool for decision-making, it has limitations. It assumes that the fixed costs do not change as production levels increase or decrease. However, in reality, fixed costs can change, which can affect the accuracy of marginal cost calculations.


Marginal costs are an essential concept in managerial accounting and decision-making. It helps companies make informed decisions about production levels, pricing strategies, and profitability. By understanding the relationship between marginal costs, marginal revenue, and marginal profit, companies can make better decisions that will positively impact their bottom line.

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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