What is Economic Profit: A Complete Guide

What is Economic Profit

Economic profit refers to the difference between the total revenue generated by a business or individual from their economic activities and the total opportunity costs incurred in those activities. In other words, it’s the total revenue earned minus the explicit costs (such as wages, rent, materials) and implicit costs (such as the opportunity cost of the owner’s time and capital investment).

Unlike accounting profit, which only considers explicit costs, economic profit accounts for both explicit and implicit costs. It provides a more comprehensive view of a firm’s profitability because it considers the full cost of resources used, including the opportunity cost of using those resources in one activity rather than another. Read about What is Economy Value

Understanding Economic Profit vs. Accounting Profit

Definition and Calculation

Economic profit is calculated by deducting both explicit and implicit costs from total revenue. Explicit costs are tangible expenses such as wages, rent, and raw materials, while implicit costs include the opportunity cost of using resources in a particular venture rather than their next best alternative. In contrast, accounting profit only considers explicit costs, leading to potentially misleading assessments of profitability.

Economic Profit
Economic Profit

Factors Affecting Economic Profit

Several factors influence economic profit, including market conditions, competition, technological advancements, and managerial decisions. By considering both explicit and implicit costs, economic profit provides a more accurate reflection of a firm’s performance and viability in the long run. Discover about What is a General Ledger

Importance of Economic Profit

Decision Making in Businesses

Economic profit plays a crucial role in guiding strategic decisions within businesses. By accounting for all costs, including opportunity costs, firms can make informed choices regarding resource allocation, pricing strategies, and investment decisions, leading to improved efficiency and competitiveness.

Long-Term Sustainability

Unlike accounting profit, which may overstate a firm’s financial health by neglecting implicit costs, economic profit offers a more realistic assessment of long-term sustainability. Businesses that focus on maximizing economic profit are better equipped to withstand market fluctuations, adapt to changing conditions, and maintain profitability over time.

Examples of Economic Profit

Real-life Scenarios

Consider a manufacturing company that generates significant accounting profits from its core operations. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the firm’s economic profit is much lower once implicit costs, such as the owner’s foregone salary and the cost of capital, are taken into account.

Comparative Analysis with Accounting Profit

By comparing economic profit with accounting profit, businesses can identify areas of inefficiency and opportunities for improvement. For instance, a retail chain may realize that although it’s reporting substantial accounting profits, its economic profit is declining due to rising implicit costs and stagnant revenue growth.

Criticism and Limitations

Subjectivity in Measurement

One criticism of economic profit is its reliance on subjective estimates, particularly when assessing implicit costs. Different analysts may assign varying values to opportunity costs, leading to discrepancies in reported economic profits.

Exclusion of Implicit Costs

While economic profit provides a more holistic view of profitability, it still excludes certain intangible factors, such as environmental impacts and social costs. Critics argue that these externalities should be incorporated into economic assessments to reflect the true societal impact of businesses.

Strategies to Maximize Economic Profit

Cost Reduction Techniques

To maximize economic profit, businesses often focus on reducing both explicit and implicit costs. This may involve streamlining operations, renegotiating supplier contracts, improving productivity, and minimizing waste.

Revenue Optimization Strategies

In addition to cost reduction, firms can enhance economic profit by optimizing revenue streams. This may include diversifying product offerings, expanding into new markets, implementing dynamic pricing strategies, and enhancing customer value propositions.

Economic Profit in Market Dynamics

Impact on Market Competition

Economic profit plays a crucial role in shaping market dynamics and competition. Firms with consistently high economic profits may attract competitors seeking to capture a share of the lucrative market, leading to increased rivalry and innovation.

Economic Profit in Market
Economic Profit in Market

Role in Economic Efficiency

By incentivizing resource allocation and innovation, economic profit contributes to overall economic efficiency. Businesses that generate positive economic profits signal to investors and policymakers that they are creating value and contributing to economic growth.


In conclusion, economic profit provides a comprehensive measure of a firm’s profitability by accounting for both explicit and implicit costs. By understanding the differences between economic profit and accounting profit, businesses can make more informed decisions, improve long-term sustainability, and contribute to economic efficiency.


  • What is the main difference between economic profit and accounting profit?
    • Economic profit considers both explicit and implicit costs, providing a more accurate reflection of a firm’s profitability, whereas accounting profit only includes explicit costs.
  • Why is economic profit important for businesses?
    • Economic profit guides strategic decision-making, improves long-term sustainability, and contributes to economic efficiency by accounting for all costs, including opportunity costs.
  • How can businesses maximize economic profit?
    • Businesses can maximize economic profit by reducing both explicit and implicit costs, optimizing revenue streams, and focusing on efficiency and innovation.
  • What are some criticisms of economic profit?
    • Critics argue that economic profit relies on subjective measurements, excludes certain intangible factors, and may not fully capture the societal impact of businesses.
  • How does economic profit affect market dynamics?
    • Economic profit influences market competition by attracting competitors and driving innovation, ultimately contributing to overall economic efficiency.


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