The main difference between total and marginal utility is that total utility refers to the total satisfaction received by the consumer from consuming different units of a commodity while the marginal utility, connotes the additional utility derived from the consumption of the extra unit of a commodity.
The consumer demand for a product is based on the utility derived from it. From product point of view, utility refers to the power of a commodity to satisfy consumer wants. While from consumer’s point of view, it is a psychological feeling of satisfaction or pleasure, which varies from individual to individual, derived by the consumer on consumption of the good or service. Two quantitative concepts related to the utility are total utility and marginal utility.
Content: Total Utility Vs Marginal Utility
|Basis for Comparison||Total Utility||Marginal Utility|
|Meaning||Total Utility means total benefit obtained by a person from consumption of goods and services.||Marginal Utility means the amount of utility a person gains from the consumption of each successive unit of a commodity.|
|Result||Suffers from diminishing returns.||Declines for each additional unit consumed.|
Definition of Total Utility
The overall satisfaction derived by a consumer from consumption of various units of a good or service, at a certain point or over a period, is known as total utility or alternately called as “full satiety.” In simple terms, total utility is nothing but the aggregate of all marginal utilities of the individual units consumed. In general total utility increases, with each additional unit consumed. Total Utility can be expressed as:
TUn = Ux + Uy + Uz or TU = ƩMU
Where TU = Total Utility
n = Number of commodities
Ux , Uy , Uz = Total respective utilities of consumption of goods
MU = Marginal Utility
Definition of Marginal Utility
The term ‘marginal’ refers to small change, and utility means satisfaction. So, as its name suggests marginal utility is the additional satisfaction received by a consumer, on the consumption of an extra unit of a commodity. It implies the addition to the total utility, due to the consumption of one more unit of a good or service. Marginal Utility is also known as “marginal satiety”. It can be expressed as:
Alternative way of expressing marginal utility when (n) is the number of units consumed, can be given as:
Key Differences Between Total and Marginal Utility
The significant differences between total and marginal utility are explained in the points given below:
- Total Utility means overall benefit obtained by a person from consumption of goods and services. Marginal Utility means the amount of utility a person gets from the consumption of each successive unit of a commodity.
- In general, the total utility increases as more of a commodity is consumed. As against this, the marginal utility decreases with each additional unit of a commodity consumed.
- There is a certain saturation point of satisfaction, where the consumer no longer gains satisfaction with the consumption of the commodity, once that point has reached. This shows that total utility suffers from decreasing returns. Unlike marginal utility, which declines with each additional unit of the commodity consumed.
Look at the below-given schedule and diagram, to understand three important relationships between total utility and marginal utility:
|Units Consumed||Total Utility (TU)||Marginal Utility (MU)|
- When the marginal utility is positive, total utility is increasing (from unit 1 to 5).
- When the marginal utility is zero, total utility is maximum (At 6th unit).
- When marginal utility is negative, total utility is decreasing (Unit 7 & 8)
After having a detailed discussion on the two microeconomics concepts, it is clear that marginal utility is the change in the total utility received from the consumption of a successive unit of a commodity. Total Utility is the summation of utility derived from each product.