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7.2: Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply: The Long Run and the Short Run

  • Page ID
    17343
  • Learning Objectives

    1. Distinguish between the short run and the long run, as these terms are used in macroeconomics.
    2. Draw a hypothetical long-run aggregate supply curve and explain what it shows about the natural levels of employment and output at various price levels, given changes in aggregate demand.
    3. Draw a hypothetical short-run aggregate supply curve, explain why it slopes upward, and explain why it may shift; that is, distinguish between a change in the aggregate quantity of goods and services supplied and a change in short-run aggregate supply.
    4. Discuss various explanations for wage and price stickiness.
    5. Explain and illustrate what is meant by equilibrium in the short run and relate the equilibrium to potential output.

    In macroeconomics, we seek to understand two types of equilibria, one corresponding to the short run and the other corresponding to the long run. The short run in macroeconomic analysis is a period in which wages and some other prices do not respond to changes in economic conditions. In certain markets, as economic conditions change, prices (including wages) may not adjust quickly enough to maintain equilibrium in these markets. A sticky price is a price that is slow to adjust to its equilibrium level, creating sustained periods of shortage or surplus. Wage and price stickiness prevent the economy from achieving its natural level of employment and its potential output. In contrast, the long run in macroeconomic analysis is a period in which wages and prices are flexible. In the long run, employment will move to its natural level and real GDP to potential.

    We begin with a discussion of long-run macroeconomic equilibrium, because this type of equilibrium allows us to see the macroeconomy after full market adjustment has been achieved. In contrast, in the short run, price or wage stickiness is an obstacle to full adjustment. Why these deviations from the potential level of output occur and what the implications are for the macroeconomy will be discussed in the section on short-run macroeconomic equilibrium.

    The Long Run

    As we saw in a previous chapter, the natural level of employment occurs where the real wage adjusts so that the quantity of labor demanded equals the quantity of labor supplied. When the economy achieves its natural level of employment, it achieves its potential level of output. We will see that real GDP eventually moves to potential, because all wages and prices are assumed to be flexible in the long run.

    Long-Run Aggregate Supply

    The long-run aggregate supply (LRAS) curve relates the level of output produced by firms to the price level in the long run. In Panel (b) of Figure 7.4 “Natural Employment and Long-Run Aggregate Supply”, the long-run aggregate supply curve is a vertical line at the economy’s potential level of output. There is a single real wage at which employment reaches its natural level. In Panel (a) of Figure 7.4 “Natural Employment and Long-Run Aggregate Supply”, only a real wage of ωe generates natural employment Le. The economy could, however, achieve this real wage with any of an infinitely large set of nominal wage and price-level combinations. Suppose, for example, that the equilibrium real wage (the ratio of wages to the price level) is 1.5. We could have that with a nominal wage level of 1.5 and a price level of 1.0, a nominal wage level of 1.65 and a price level of 1.1, a nominal wage level of 3.0 and a price level of 2.0, and so on.

    Figure 7.4 Natural Employment and Long-Run Aggregate Supply

    When the economy achieves its natural level of employment, as shown in Panel (a) at the intersection of the demand and supply curves for labor, it achieves its potential output, as shown in Panel (b) by the vertical long-run aggregate supply curve LRAS at YP.

    In Panel (b) we see price levels ranging from P1 to P4. Higher price levels would require higher nominal wages to create a real wage of ωe, and flexible nominal wages would achieve that in the long run.

    In the long run, then, the economy can achieve its natural level of employment and potential output at any price level. This conclusion gives us our long-run aggregate supply curve. With only one level of output at any price level, the long-run aggregate supply curve is a vertical line at the economy’s potential level of output of YP.

    Equilibrium Levels of Price and Output in the Long Run

    The intersection of the economy’s aggregate demand curve and the long-run aggregate supply curve determines its equilibrium real GDP and price level in the long run. Figure 7.5 “Long-Run Equilibrium” depicts an economy in long-run equilibrium. With aggregate demand at AD1 and the long-run aggregate supply curve as shown, real GDP is $12,000 billion per year and the price level is 1.14. If aggregate demand increases to AD2, long-run equilibrium will be reestablished at real GDP of $12,000 billion per year, but at a higher price level of 1.18. If aggregate demand decreases to AD3, long-run equilibrium will still be at real GDP of $12,000 billion per year, but with the now lower price level of 1.10.

    Figure 7.5 Long-Run Equilibrium

    Long-run equilibrium occurs at the intersection of the aggregate demand curve and the long-run aggregate supply curve. For the three aggregate demand curves shown, long-run equilibrium occurs at three different price levels, but always at an output level of $12,000 billion per year, which corresponds to potential output.