What Are Economic Models?
What Are Economic Models?

What Are Economic Models?

Publicerad Jun 28, 2024Uppdaterad Jun 29, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Economic models simplify economic processes, making it easier to analyze and predict various economic elements, such as inflation or unemployment levels.

  • While economic models are not directly used in the crypto market, they provide valuable theoretical knowledge for analyzing different cryptocurrency metrics.

  • Policymakers can use economic models to make more informed decisions and develop better government policies. Businesses may use economic models to plan strategies based on predicted economic conditions.


Understanding the economy can seem overwhelming due to its vast and interconnected nature. However, economists have developed methods to analyze the economy as a whole by breaking it down into smaller pieces. In this article, we will explore economic models, their components, their types, how they work, how they can be used in crypto, and some of their use cases.

What Are Economic Models?

Economic models are simplified representations of economic processes. They help economists and policymakers understand the interactions between different elements of the economy, such as inflation and unemployment. 

Economic models serve several key purposes:

1. They explain the connections between different economic variables.

2. They allow economists to forecast future economic trends and events.

3. They help evaluate the potential impact of economic policies.

Components of Economic Models


Variables are elements that can change and affect the outcomes of economic models. Common economic variables include:

1. Price. The amount of money required to purchase a good or service. 

2. Quantity. The number of goods or services produced or consumed. 

3. Income. The earnings of individuals or households. 

4. Interest rates. The cost of borrowing money.


Parameters are fixed values that define the behavior of variables in the model. For example, in a model analyzing the ties between inflation and unemployment, the parameters might include the natural rate of unemployment (NRU) and the sensitivity of inflation to changes in unemployment. 

The NRU — also known as the NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) — is the level of unemployment that exists when the labor market is in equilibrium.


Equations are mathematical expressions that describe the relationships between variables and parameters. They form the backbone of economic models. 

For example, the Phillips Curve is a model that describes the relationship between inflation and unemployment. The equation for the Phillips Curve can be written as:

  • π = πe ​− ÎČ (u−un​), where:

    • π is the rate of inflation.

    • πe ​is the expected rate of inflation.

    • ÎČ is a parameter showing how sensitive inflation is to changes in unemployment.

    • u is the actual unemployment rate.

    • un ​is the natural rate of unemployment.


Assumptions simplify the models by setting certain conditions or constraints on various factors. Common assumptions include: 

1. Rational behavior. Consumers and firms make decisions to maximize their utility or profit.

2. Perfect competition. It assumes that markets have enough buyers and sellers, with no single entity able to manipulate them.

3. Ceteris paribus. All other factors remain unchanged while analyzing the effect of one variable.

How Do Economic Models Work?

1. Identifying key variables and relationships

The first step is to identify the key variables that will be included in the model and establish the relationships between them. For example, in a supply and demand model, key variables are: 

  • Price (P).

  • Quantity demanded (Qd).

  • Quantity supplied (Qs).

The relationships are the demand and supply curves, which show how quantity demanded (Qd) and quantity supply (Qs) change in response to changes in price (P).

2. Defining parameters

Next, we collect relevant data to estimate the parameters. In a supply and demand model, typical key parameters are:

  • Price elasticity of demand: Measures how sensitive Qd is to changes in P.

  • Price elasticity of supply: Measures how sensitive Qs is to changes in P.

3. Developing equations

Then, equations are developed to express the relationships between variables and parameters. For instance, in the supply and demand model, the equations might be:

  • Qd = aP, where a is the price elasticity of demand.

  • Qs = bP, where b is the price elasticity of supply.

4. Formulating assumptions

Finally, assumptions are made to simplify the model. They define the scope and limitations of the model, clarifying what it will and will not account for. For instance, a supply and demand model might be built with the following assumptions: 

  • Perfect competition. Assumed to focus on the mechanics of supply and demand while leaving out various market imperfections.

  • Ceteris paribus. Assumed to isolate the effects of changes in P on Qd and Qs, enabling a clearer analysis of this relationship.


Consider a market for apples. We want to analyze how the price of apples is determined by the interaction between supply and demand. 

1. Identifying key variables and relationships. 

The key variables in this model are: 

  • Price (P). The price of apples.

  • Quantity demanded (Qd). The number of apples consumers are willing to buy at a given price.

  • Quantity supplied (Qs). The number of apples producers are willing to sell at a given price. 

The relationships are illustrated by the demand and supply curves, which show how Qd and Qs change in response to price changes. 

2. Defining Parameters. 

Key parameters may include: 

  • Price elasticity of demand. Measures how sensitive the quantity demanded is to price changes.

  • Price elasticity of supply. Measures how sensitive the quantity supplied is to price changes.

Let's assume: 

  • Price elasticity of demand = -50

  • Price elasticity of supply = 100 

These values mean that: 

  • For every $1 increase in price, the quantity demanded decreases by 50 apples. 

  • For every $1 increase in price, the quantity supplied increases by 100 apples.

3. Developing equations. 

Then, we develop equations to express the mentioned relationships between Qs and Qd and price:

  • Qd = 200 − 50P

  • Qs = -50 + 100P

4. Formulating assumptions 

To simplify the model, we make assumptions such as: 

  • Perfect competition. There are many buyers and sellers, none of whom can control the entire market.

  • Ceteris paribus. All other factors remain constant while we analyze the effect of price on quantity demanded and supplied. 

5. Analyzing market equilibrium 

To find the equilibrium price and quantity, we set Qd = Qs: 

200 − 50P = -50 + 100P 

250 = 150P 

P = 250 / 150

P = 1.67

Substituting P = 1.67 into either equation: 

Qd = 200 − (50*1.67) 

Qd = 200 − 83.5

Qd = 116.5

Qs = −50 + (100*1.67)

Qs = −50 + 167

Qs = 117

The equilibrium price is approximately $1.67, and the equilibrium quantity is approximately 117 apples.

6. Outcomes

This supply and demand model gives us the following data:

  • The equilibrium price at which consumers buy the exact amount of apples that producers are willing to sell (equilibrium quantity), maximizing efficiency in the market.

  • If the price was higher than $1.67, the quantity supplied would exceed the quantity demanded, leading to a surplus.

  • If the price was lower than $1.67, the quantity demanded would exceed the quantity supplied, leading to a shortage.

Types of Economic Models

Visual models

Visual models use graphs and charts to represent economic concepts and relationships. They help illustrate ideas, such as supply and demand curves, making them easier to interpret and grasp.

Empirical models

Empirical models use real-world data to test economic theories and show relationships between economic variables. They start with mathematical equations and then use data to estimate the values of the variables. For example, an empirical model might show how much investment in the entire country changes when the interest rate rises by 1%.

Mathematical models

Mathematical models use equations to represent economic theories and relationships. They can be very detailed and require a good understanding of algebra or calculus. For example, a simple mathematical model might include equations for supply, demand, and market equilibrium.

Expectations-enhanced models

Expectations-enhanced models incorporate people's expectations about future economic variables. They help predict how metrics like inflation or interest rates, can influence economic behavior. For example, if people expect higher inflation in the future, they might spend more now, increasing current demand.

Simulation models

Simulation models use computer programs to mimic real-world economic scenarios. They allow economists to experiment with different variables and see the potential outcomes without having to test these scenarios in the real world. This can be useful for analyzing the potential impact of policies or economic shocks.

Static and dynamic models

Static models provide a snapshot of the economy at a specific point in time. They are easier to use as they do not account for changes over time. An example would be a supply and demand model that shows market equilibrium without considering how the market adjusts to changes.

In contrast, dynamic models include time as a factor and show how economic variables change over time. They illustrate how economic conditions change in response to various factors, such as policy changes or external shocks. Dynamic models are generally more complex but offer a better understanding of long-term trends and cycles in the economy.

Economic Models in Crypto

Understanding market dynamics

Economic models can help us understand how supply and demand influence crypto prices. By analyzing how many coins are available (supply) and how many people want to buy them (demand), we can get a sense of price movements and market trends.

Analyzing transaction costs

Transaction cost models show us the impact of fees on blockchain networks. High transaction fees can discourage their usage, while low fees can promote it. By analyzing the costs, we can predict how they might affect user behavior and network efficiency.

Simulating economic scenarios

Simulation models allow us to create virtual scenarios to see how different variables might affect the crypto market. They can simulate changes in regulation, technological progress, or shifts in user behavior. While theoretical, simulation models provide a framework for analyzing potential future developments.


Unrealistic assumptions

Many economic models rely on assumptions that do not always hold true in reality. For instance, they can assume perfect competition or rational behavior, which are not always present in actual markets. These assumptions can limit the applicability and accuracy of the model when applied to real-world scenarios.


Economic models simplify complex real-world situations to make them easier to analyze. This means that they might leave out important factors, leading to results that may not fully capture the true dynamics of the economy. For example, a model might assume all consumers behave in the same way, ignoring individual differences that could impact economic outcomes.

Use Cases

Policy analysis

Economic models are used to evaluate the potential impact of different government policies. For instance, they can show the effects of tax cuts, increases in government spending, or changes in interest rates. This helps policymakers make more informed decisions and develop more effective policies.


Economic models can forecast future economic trends, helping businesses and governments plan for the future. For example, a model might predict economic growth rates, unemployment levels, or inflation rates over the next few years.

Business planning

Businesses use economic models to plan strategies based on predicted economic conditions. For instance, a company might use a model to forecast demand for its products and plan production levels accordingly.

Examples of Economic Models

Supply and demand model

The supply and demand model shows how prices and quantities of goods are determined in a market. It uses two curves: the supply curve (showing how much producers will sell at different prices) and the demand curve (showing how much consumers will buy at different prices). The intersection of these curves is the market equilibrium, determining the price and quantity sold.

Source: Britannica.com

IS-LM model

The IS-LM model explains the relationship between interest rates and real output in the goods and money markets. The IS curve represents equilibrium in the goods market, while the LM curve represents equilibrium in the money market. The intersection of these curves shows the general equilibrium where both markets are balanced.

Source: Dyingeconomy.com

Phillips curve

The Phillips Curve illustrates the relationship between inflation and unemployment. It suggests that as inflation increases, unemployment tends to decrease, and vice versa. This model helps policymakers understand the trade-offs between managing inflation and unemployment rates.

Source: Study.com

Solow growth model

The Solow Growth Model examines long-term economic growth by focusing on labor, capital accumulation, and technological progress. It shows how these factors contribute to steady-state growth, where the economy grows at a constant rate.

Source: Dyingeconomy.com

Closing Thoughts

Economic models simplify and clarify the workings of the economy. They break down complex economic interactions into understandable elements, explaining how different factors influence economic outcomes. Economic models are used by policymakers in decision-making and allow businesses to plan strategies. In the context of crypto, models can offer theoretical knowledge for analyzing market dynamics, transaction costs, and simulating potential future scenarios to see how different factors may affect the crypto market.

Further Reading

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