Thursday, May 26, 2016

Monopoly and Oligopoly


Definition: A market structure characterized by a single seller, selling a unique product in the market. In a monopoly market, the seller faces no competition, as he is the sole seller of goods with no close substitute.

Description: In a monopoly market, factors like government license, ownership of resources, copyright and patent and high starting cost make an entity a single seller of goods. All these factors restrict the entry of other sellers in the market. Monopolies also possess some information that is not known to other sellers.

Characteristics associated with a monopoly market make the single seller the market controller as well as the price maker. He enjoys the power of setting the price for his goods.


An oligopoly is a market structure in which a few firms dominate. When a market is shared between a few firms, it is said to be highly concentrated. Although only a few firms dominate, it is possible that many small firms may also operate in the market. For example, major airlines like British Airways (BA) and Air France operate their routes with only a few close competitors, but there are also many small airlines catering for the holidaymaker or offering specialist services.

Concentration ratios

Oligopolies may be identified using concentration ratios, which measure the proportion of total market share controlled by a given number of firms. When there is a high concentration ratio in an industry, economists tend to identify the industry as an oligopoly.

Example of a hypothetical concentration ratio

The following are the annual sales, in £m, of the six firms in a hypothetical market:
A = 56
B = 43
C = 22
D = 12
E = 3
F = 1
In this hypothetical case, the 3-firm concentration ratio is 88.3%, that is 121/137 x 100.


Fixed Broadband services

Fixed broadband supply in the UK is dominated by four main suppliers - BT (with a market share of 32%), Virgin Media (at 20%), Sky (at 22%) and TalkTalk (at 14%), making a four-firm concentration ratio of 86%

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