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Average Propensity to Consume


The Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is a term in economics that measures the fraction of total income that is spent on consumable goods and services. In simpler terms, it shows how consumption changes with changes in income. It’s calculated by dividing total consumption by total income.


The phonetic transcription of “Average Propensity to Consume” is:/’ævərɪd͡ʒ/ /prə’pɛnsəti/ /tuː/ /kənˈsjuːm/

Key Takeaways


  1. Definition: Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is a macroeconomic concept that shows the proportion of income consumed rather than saved, calculated by dividing total consumption by total income. This measure can provide insights into consumer spending behaviours and overall economic health.
  2. Function: APC offers an in-depth understanding of how a population uses its available income. When APC is high, it indicates that people are consuming a large portion of their income vs. saving. Conversely, lower APC suggests a higher savings rate. Tracking these shifts can guide economic policy decisions and help predict future economic trends.
  3. Relation with income: Typically, APC decreases as income rises due to the Law of Non-Satiety, which suggests that as income increases, the proportion of income spent on consumption decreases. As people earn more, they are likely to save more of their income, leading to a lower APC.



The concept of Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is crucial in business and finance as it offers insights into consumer behavior, showing the portion of total income that is spent on consumption rather than savings. It indicates the relationship between consumption and disposable income, facilitating economic predictions and allowing policymakers and businesses to understand economic trends and make informed decisions. For example, a high APC might suggest that individuals are spending a significant part of their income and thus may have less propensity to save. On the contrary, a low APC might point towards a higher savings rate. Understanding APC can help businesses in strategic planning, predicting sales, and identifying potential market opportunities. Moreover, it is a vital tool for policymakers to frame economic policies.


The Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is a critical financial concept that economists utilize to understand consumer behavior, particularly in relation to their income levels. It describes what portion of total income is spent on consumption, thus providing key insights into spending patterns. Ideally, it aids economists and policymakers in formulating strategies to either stimulate or control economic activity based on consumer spending patterns. Theoretical formulations of the APC are a cornerstone of macroeconomic theories and models, providing a snapshot of the economic health of a nation.A higher APC, implying a higher spending ratio to income, indicates a buoyant economy with strong consumer sentiment, which could lead to increased business activity and potentially higher inflation. Conversely, a lower APC could indicate caution among consumers due to various reasons, including economic uncertainty or high savings rates, subsequently leading to slower economic growth. Therefore, APC is not just a descriptive tool, but also acts as a predictive indicator that allows businesses and policy makers to anticipate and prepare for future trends and economic turns gracefully.


1. A University Student: Sarah, a university student, makes $2,000 a month from a part-time job. She spends $1,500 on different items like rent, food, books, and entertainment. So her Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is $1,500/$2,000 = 0.75, meaning she spends 75% of her income on consumption. 2. A Retired Individual: Let’s consider John, a retired individual, who receives $3,000 a month from his pension and investments. He spends $2,000 for monthly consumption including rent, food, healthcare, and travel expenses. So, his APC would be $2,000/$3,000 = 0.67, or 67% of his income. 3. Small Business Owner: Michael, a small business owner, makes $10,000 a month. However, due to the nature of his business, he incurs high operating costs and thus only spends $3,000 on personal expenses like food, transport, and bills. His APC is $3,000/$10,000 = 0.3, or 30%, showing that he only spends 30% of his income on consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Average Propensity to Consume (APC)?

The Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is an economic term that refers to the share of income that a person or an entire nation spends on goods and services rather than saving it. It is calculated by dividing the total consumption by total income.

How is the Average Propensity to Consume calculated?

You can calculate the Average Propensity to Consume by dividing the total consumption expenditure by the total income. For example, if a person earns $1000 and spends $800, the average propensity to consume would be 0.8 or 80%.

Why is the Average Propensity to Consume important?

APC is a key indicator of consumer behavior. It shows how changes in income affect consumption patterns, which can reflect economic stability. It is usually used by economists and policymakers to understand and predict the economic consumption behaviour of individuals and hence the economy.

Does a high Average Propensity to Consume indicate a good economic condition?

Not necessarily. A high APC signifies that a large proportion of income is spent, leaving less for saving. This could be an indicator of a strong economy where people have high confidence in their income and are willing to spend. However, it could also be indicative of a scenario where people are living paycheck to paycheck without any savings, which can be a concern in the long run.

What is the difference between APC (Average Propensity to Consume) and MPC (Marginal Propensity to Consume)?

While both are economic indicators, the key difference lies in what each measures. APC is the ratio of total consumption to total income, indicating overall spending habits. Conversely, MPC measures the change in consumption resulting from a change in income, essentially indicating how likely consumers are to spend additional income.

What does it mean if a country’s Average Propensity to Consume is declining?

A declining APC means individuals or households are spending a smaller portion of their total income. This could indicate increased savings or investment, economic uncertainty prompting cautiousness in spending, or changes in taxation or income brackets. Factors could vary from country to country.

Can the Average Propensity to Consume be more than 1?

Technically, yes. An APC greater than 1 implies that an individual or country is consuming more than its income. This usually means they are borrowing or using saved funds from previous periods to finance consumption, which may not be sustainable in the long run.

How does the Average Propensity to Consume affect government policy?

Understanding APC helps governments create effective fiscal policies. If APC is high, it might indicate lower saving rates that could lead to future economic instability. This might prompt policies to encourage savings. Alternatively, a low APC could indicate sluggish demand, prompting stimulus plans to boost consumption.

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