Giffen Good Definition

With a Giffen good, if rice continues to rise in prices, demand may eventually fall because the poor workers will not be able to even afford rice. Suppose you have a very low income and eat two basic foodstuffs rice and meat. Giffen goods are the goods whose demand increases in response to an increase in their price and vice versa. A Veblen good is typical of high quality and highly coveted, in contrast to a Giffen good, which is of inferior quality and cannot be easily replaced. Wheat, rice, potatoes, etc., are examples of Giffen goods, while luxury watches, luxury cars, etc., are examples of Veblen goods.

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  • Giffen Goods has been defined as a non-luxury product for which demand increases as the price increases and vice versa, thus defying standard laws of demand.
  • In this case, the price of potatoes increased, and despite the fact that consumers could not afford to purchase other goods, they actually increased their demand for potatoes, which were a staple part of their diet.

The total amount spent on the goods must be large relative to the consumer’s budget. Only in such a scenario will an increase in its price create a significant income effect. As indicated in the example above, rice represents 80% of the quantity demanded of grains. Even if there is an increase in the price of the good, the current good should still be an attractive option for the consumer. In other words, the substitution effect created by the increase in the price of that good must be smaller than the income effect created by the increased cost requirement. Because there are few substitutes for Giffen items, buyers will continue to buy them even if the price rises.

Indifference curve analysis and Giffen Goods

This unusual behavior occurs due to the income effect, which outweighs the substitution effect. When the price of a Giffen good increases, consumers may not be able to afford other, more expensive goods, so they end up consuming more of the Giffen good. To understand Giffen goods, it’s essential first to comprehend their relationship with inferior goods.

  • 5 units of bread a day – the minimum level for survival, making 35 units bought per week, costing €140; and the remainder, €60, is spent on one unit of the luxury good, lamb, consumed on one day a week.
  • Some clients may not be willing to change their ways and will continue to buy inferior goods.
  • If, now, the price of bread increases from €4 to €5, then the only way to continue to consume the necessary quantity of the staple food, bread, (5 units) is to stop purchasing lamb.
  • Giffen goods are increasingly rare in modern economies, including India, due to economic development, increased consumer choices, and reduced income disparities.
  • The total amount spent on the goods must be large relative to the consumer’s budget.
  • Because, in some degrees, the higher price indicates higher values of goods offering to the consumers.

The good must be an inferior good as its lower comparable costs drive an increased demand to meet consumption needs. Jensen and Miller found strong evidence of Giffen behavior exhibited by Hunan households with respect to rice. Lowering the price of rice through the subsidy caused reduced demand by households for the rice while increasing the price by removing the subsidy had the opposite effect. Veblen goods are high-quality luxury items whose demand rises in tandem with their price. Giffen goods are low-cost items whose demand rises in tandem with their price. There are just a few alternatives for these things required to provide the need for food.


The income effect is stronger than the substitution effect, and both work in opposite directions. If, now, the price of bread increases from €4 to €5, then the only way to continue to consume the necessary quantity of the staple food, bread, (5 units) is to stop purchasing lamb. Hence, weekly spending now on lamb is 0, leaving €200 available to spend on bread.

Income Effect vs. Price Effect: What’s the Difference?

The earnings elasticity of demand, in diagrammatic terms, is a percentage measure of how far the demand curve shifts in response to a change in income. According to the findings of the study, low-cost items exist that are in direct opposition to conventional product demand assumptions. There are few examples of Giffen goods if any, alternatives for these things, which are not typically considered to be luxury items in the traditional sense. Examples of Giffen goods are sales of bread, rice, and wheat increase when the price of these commodities rises and decrease when the price of these commodities falls, as shown in the chart below. Potatoes during the Irish Great Famine were once considered to be an example of a Giffen good.

Limitations of Giffen Goods

The concept of Giffen Good is rare and has limited practical significance in modern economies. The paradoxical relationship between price and demand is difficult to observe and measure in most cases. Giffen goods are those inferior goods on which the consumer spends a large part of his income and the demand for which falls with a fall in their price. Although Giffen goods hold theoretical importance in economics, identifying and studying them in real-world situations presents several challenges. The rarity and specific conditions required for the existence of Giffen goods make it difficult for economists to confirm their presence and study their effects. While these examples are often cited as evidence of Giffen goods, it’s important to note that their classification as such is not universally agreed upon.

Businesses must consider the preferences and budget constraints of lower-income consumers when offering products in the market. Policymakers use the knowledge of inferior goods to design policies that address income disparities and support lower-income populations through affordable access to basic necessities. Yes, both Giffen goods and inferior goods are related to income elasticity of demand.

Because of price decreases in response to subsidy elimination, household demand for rice decreased, whereas an increase in rice prices as a result of subsidy elimination had the opposite impact. Giffen’s upward demand curve can be described by income and substitution econometrics. In his 1947 article “Notes on the History of the Giffen Paradox,” George J. Stigler, to his credit, presented a counter-example to the meat-and-bread example that was successful. When it comes to economics, the supply and demand for Giffen items is an extremely rare phenomenon. There are a variety of market dynamics that can influence the development of Giffen goods products, including supply, demand, pricing, income, and substitution. These variables all impact the fundamental theories of supply and demand economics.

Giffen goods have negative income elasticity, while inferior goods also often exhibit negative income elasticity due to their increased demand when incomes decrease. Overall, the concept of Giffen goods remains an intriguing but controversial topic in economics. Although real-world examples are rare and contested, the study of Giffen goods offers valuable insights into consumer behavior, the income effect, and the limits of conventional economic theories. All equilibrium points A1, A2, and A3 are where budget lines are tangent to ICs.

All of these variables are central to the basic theories of supply and demand economics. Examples of Giffen goods are a study in the effects of these variables on low-income, non-luxury goods which result in an upward sloping demand curve. A Giffen good is a low income, non-luxury product that defies standard economic and consumer demand theory.

What is the demand curve for Giffen?

Compared to meat, it is obvious that potatoes could be much cheaper as a staple food. Due to poverty, individuals could not afford meat anymore; therefore, demand for potatoes increased. Under such a situation, the supply curve will increase with the rise in potatoes’ price, which is consistent with the definition of Giffen good.

[8] However the theoretical distinction between the two types of analysis remains clear, which one should apply to any actual case is an empirical matter. Based on microeconomic consumer theory, it assumes that the consumer could value a good without knowing the price. However, when the consumers who were constrained by income and price need to choose the optimal goods, the goods must be valued with available prices. Because, in some degrees, the higher price indicates higher values of goods offering to the consumers.

Examples of Giffen goods are rare, but they might include basic food staples like certain grains in specific regions or very low-cost goods when there are limited substitutes. Inferior goods are more common and can include generic medicines, unbranded clothing, public transportation, and basic food staples. They are usually staple goods, such as rice or bread in low-income households. In his textbook ‘Principles of Economics’, economist Alfred Marshall described Robert Giffen’s work in the context of bread rising in price because people lacked the income to buy meat.

The fundamental distinction between the two is that Giffen goods are focused on low-cost items, while Veblen goods are concentrated on luxury, exclusive, and premium items. Sports cars, expensive accessories (diamond rings, watches, necklaces), premium couture apparel, and so forth are examples. The concept of Giffen goods subverts the fundamental logic of supply and demand. Another potential caveat is brought up by “The Notion of Inferior Good in the Public Economy” by Professor Jurion of University of Liège (printed 1978). Public goods corresponding to on-line news are often thought of inferior goods.

The primary difference lies in the response of demand to changes in price and income. Giffen goods experience an increase in demand as their prices rise due to a unique income effect dominating the substitution effect. In contrast, inferior goods see an increase in demand when consumer incomes decrease. In conclusion, while Giffen goods remain a rare and debated phenomenon, their study continues to contribute valuable insights to the field of economics. By understanding the intricacies of consumer behavior, demand elasticity, and market dynamics, economists can better inform policy decisions and develop effective strategies for addressing economic challenges.

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