The concept of elasticity and strategies for teaching it in introductory courses of economics

Contenido principal del artículo

Luis Francisco Gómez López


This article presents a geometric and algebraical approach to teach the concept of elasticity for
undergraduate students with different levels of knowledge in mathematics and pointing out why
it is necessary to introduce it from the idea of he slope of a function. To achieve this objective a
short review of the literature of the main properties associated with elasticity is carried out, without
separating them from their historical development, to illustrate a way of presenting the concept
in a discrete or continuous way and using geometric arguments or algebraic expressions. Due to
the flexibility of the concept, and taking into account the previous knowledge of the student, it is
concluded that this approach is a more adequate way to teach the concept.

Detalles del artículo


Allen, Roy George Douglas (1938). Mathematical Analysis For Economists London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd.
Allen, Roy George Douglas and Lerner, Abba Ptachya (1934). The Concept of Arc Elasticity of Demand. In: The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 226-230. DOI: 10.2307/2967486.
Becker, Gary (2007). Economic Theory. New York: Transaction Publishers.
Cournot, Augustin (1897). Researches into the mathematical principles of the theory of wealth. London: Macmillan and Co.
Gallego-Diaz, José (1944). A Note on the Arc Elasticity of Demand.. In: The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 114-115. DOI: 10.2307/2296096.
Huang, Jian; Leng, Mingming and Parlar, Mahmut (2013). Demand Functions in Decision Modeling: A Comprehensive Survey and Research Directions. In: Decision Sciences, Vol. 44, No. 3, p. 557-609. DOI: 10.1111/deci.12021.
Marshall, Alfred (1890). Principles of Economics. New York: Macmillan and Co.
Mishan, Erza (1958). A Single Geometric Measure for Elasticity of Demand and Supply. In: The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, p. 63-65. DOI: 10.2307/2295858.
Newman, Peter (2008). Elasticity. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Nievergelt, Yves (1983). The Concept of Elasticity in Economics. SIAM Review, Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 261-265.
Tornqvist, Leo; Vartia, Pentti and Vartia, Yrjo (1985). How Should Relative Changes Be Measured? In: The American Statistician, Vol. 39, No. 1, p. 43-46. DOI: 10.2307/2683905.
Vartia, Pentti (1977). A Note on the Calculation of Arc-Elasticities. In: The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 79, No. 4, p. 485-487. DOI: 10.2307/3439706.
Vázquez, Andrés (1998). An alternative definition of the arc elasticity of demand. In: Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 25, No. 6, p. 553-562. DOI: 10.1108/01443589810233892.
Biografía del autor/a

Luis Francisco Gómez López, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada

Economist, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Master’s Degree in Economics, Universidad de los
Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Professor, Facultad de Estudios a Distancia, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada,
Cajicá, Colombia. E-mail: