Isoquants:
Definition and Meaning:
The word 'iso' is of Greek origin
and means equal or same and 'quant' means quantity. An
isoquant may be defined as:
"A curve showing all the various
combinations of two factors that can produce a given level of
output. The isoquant shows the whole range of alternative
ways of producing the same level of output".
The modern
economists are using isoquant, or "ISO" product curves for
determining the optimum factor combination to produce certain
units of a commodity at the least cost.
Schedule:
The concept of isoquant
or equal product curve can be better explained with the help of
schedule given below:
Combinations 
Factor
X 
Factor
Y 
Total
Output 
A 
1 
14 
100 METERS 
B 
2 
10 
100 METERS 
C 
3 
7 
100 METERS 
D 
4 
5 
100 METERS 
E 
5 
4 
100 METERS 
In the table given above, it is
shown that a producer employs two factors of production X and Y
for producing an output of 100 meters of cloth. There are five
combinations which produce the same level of output (100 meters
of cloth).
The factor combination A using 1
unit of factor X and 14 units of factor Y produces 100 meters of
cloth. The combination B using 2 units of factor X and 10 units
of factor Y produces 100 meters of cloth. Similarly combinations
C, U and E, employing 3 units of X and 7 units of Y, 4 units of
X and 5 units of Y, 5 units of X and 4 units of Y produce 100
units of output, each. The producer, here., is indifferent as to
which combination of inputs he uses for producing the same
amount of output.
Diagram/Graph:
The alternative techniques for
producing a given level of output can be plotted on a graph.
The figure 12.1 shows y the 100
units isoquant plotted to ISO product schedule. The five factor
combinations of X and Y are plotted and are shown by points a,
b, c, d and e. if we join these points, it forms an 'isoquant'.
An isoquant therefore, is the graphic representation of an isoproduct
schedule. It may here be noted that all the factor combinations
of X and Y on an isoproduct curve are technically efficient
combinations. The producer is indifferent as to which
combination he uses for producing the same level of output. It
is in this way that an iso product curve is also called
'production indifference curve'. In the figure 12.1, ISO product
IP curve represents the various combinations of the two inputs
which produce the same level of output (100 meters of cloth).
Isoquant
Map:
An isoquant map shows a set of isoproduct curves. Each isoquant represents a different level of
output. A higher isoquant shows a higher level of output and a
lower isoquant represents a lower level of output.
Diagram/Graph:
In the figure 12.2, a family of
three isoproduct curves which produce various level of output
is shown. The iso product IQ^{1} yields 100 units of
output by using quantities of inputs X and Y. So is also the
case with isoquant IQ^{3 }yielding 300 units of output.
We conclude that an isoquant map includes a series, of
isoproduct
curves. Each isoquant represents a different level of output.
The higher the isoquant output, the further right will be the
isoquant.
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