Course Content
Price System, Microeconomy: Consumer Theory
Price System, Microeconomy: Efficiency and market failure, Private costs and benefits, externalities and social costs and benefits
Price System, Microeconomy: Growth and survival of firms; Differing objectives and policies of firms
Macroeconomy: Economic growth and sustainability, Employment, Money and banking
CAIE Alevel Economics (A2)

  • Equity refers to the fairness and justice in the distribution of resources, opportunities, and outcomes among individuals or groups.
    • It focuses on ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and has equal access to basic necessities, opportunities, and social benefits.
    • Equity is concerned with reducing disparities and promoting social justice.
    • In an equitable system, the distribution of resources takes into account the different needs, circumstances, and abilities of individuals.


  • Efficiency refers to the optimal allocation and utilization of resources to maximize the overall output or benefit.
    • It is about achieving the highest possible level of productivity or output with the given resources.
    • Efficiency emphasizes minimizing waste, reducing costs, and maximizing the overall economic well-being.
    • Efficiency is often measured by factors such as productivity, effectiveness, and resource allocation.
  • These two concepts can sometimes be in conflict because achieving perfect equity may require redistributing resources in a way that reduces overall efficiency, and pursuing maximum efficiency may result in unequal outcomes.


  • In real-world situations, policymakers and economists often face the challenge of balancing equity and efficiency.
    • Striking the right balance depends on the specific context and societal values.
    • Some argue that a certain level of equity is necessary for a just society, while others emphasize the importance of efficiency to drive economic growth and prosperity.
    • Achieving both equity and efficiency simultaneously is an ongoing challenge in economic policy-making.

  • Absolute poverty is a measure of poverty that focuses on the minimum level of income or consumption necessary to meet basic needs and sustain a minimum standard of living.
    • It defines poverty in terms of an absolute threshold or poverty line.
    • This threshold is typically determined by considering the cost of a basic basket of goods and services needed for survival, such as food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare.
    • Individuals or households whose income or consumption falls below this threshold are considered to be in absolute poverty.
  • Relative poverty is a measure of poverty that compares an individual's or household's income or consumption level to the average or median income or consumption in a particular society or reference group.
    • It defines poverty in relative terms, relative to the living standards of others in the same society.
    • Individuals or households whose income or consumption falls significantly below the average or median level are considered to be in relative poverty.

The poverty trap refers to a situation where individuals or households are unable to escape poverty due to various economic factors and incentives.

  • It is characterized by a self-reinforcing cycle that makes it difficult for people to improve their economic conditions and move out of poverty.

The poverty trap can occur for several reasons:

  • Welfare system effects: In some cases, the design of welfare programs or social assistance may inadvertently discourage individuals from seeking employment or increasing their income. High effective marginal tax rates or benefit withdrawal rates can create disincentives to work or earn more, trapping individuals in a state of dependency on social support.
  • Income and employment dynamics: Individuals in poverty often face low wages, unstable or informal employment, and limited access to income-generating opportunities. This makes it difficult to earn enough income to meet basic needs and accumulate savings.
  • Human capital constraints: Limited access to education, skills training, and healthcare can hinder individuals' ability to improve their productivity and employability. Without the necessary skills and qualifications, it becomes harder to secure better-paying jobs or create self-employment opportunities.
  • Asset poverty: Lack of access to financial resources, property, or productive assets can impede individuals' ability to invest in income-generating activities or seize economic opportunities. Without assets or collateral, it becomes challenging to break free from the cycle of poverty.
  • Social and psychological factors: Poverty can also have long-lasting effects on social and psychological well-being, which can further perpetuate the poverty trap. Factors such as limited social networks, low self-esteem, and a sense of hopelessness can make it difficult for individuals to take risks or invest in their future.

To address the poverty trap, economic policies and interventions should focus on breaking the cycle of poverty and creating opportunities for upward mobility. This includes

  • improving access to quality education and healthcare,
  • promoting inclusive economic growth,
  • providing targeted social assistance with incentives for work,
  • and fostering an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and job creation.
  • It also requires addressing structural issues such as inequality, discrimination, and limited access to resources and opportunities that contribute to the persistence of poverty.

  • Negative income tax is a policy where individuals or households below a certain income threshold receive a payment from the government instead of paying taxes.
    • The payment amount gradually decreases as income increases.
    • This policy is designed to provide income support to those with low or no income, reducing poverty and promoting equity.
    • It ensures that individuals have a minimum level of income to meet their basic needs and encourages workforce participation.
  • Universal Benefits: social welfare programs that are provided to all individuals regardless of their income or wealth status.
    • Examples include universal healthcare, universal child benefits, or universal pension schemes.
    • These benefits aim to ensure that everyone has access to essential services and support, regardless of their financial situation.
  • Means-Tested Benefits are targeted towards individuals with low income or specific needs.
    • These benefits are means-tested, meaning eligibility is determined based on income or other criteria.
    • Means-tested benefits aim to provide targeted support to those who need it most, focusing on addressing income disparities and promoting equity.
  • Universal basic income (UBI) is a policy where every individual in a society receives a periodic cash transfer from the government, unconditionally and without any work requirements.
    • UBI aims to provide a guaranteed income floor to all citizens, ensuring a minimum standard of living and reducing poverty.
    • The policy is designed to promote equity by providing everyone with the means to meet their basic needs and participate in economic and social activities.

When analyzing these policies, it's important to consider their impact on both equity and efficiency.

  • Policies like negative income tax and means-tested benefits specifically target individuals with low income, addressing income inequality and promoting equity.
    • However, they may create disincentives to work or reduce the motivation for individuals to increase their income.
  • Universal benefits and UBI, on the other hand, provide income support to a broader population, ensuring a minimum level of economic security for all.
    • These policies can have positive effects on poverty reduction and social inclusion but may require significant fiscal resources.

The choice of policy depends on the specific context and goals of a society. Balancing equity and efficiency considerations is crucial to design policies that effectively tackle income disparities, reduce poverty, and promote a fair and inclusive society.

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