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APC vs. MPC: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 6, 2024
APC (Average Propensity to Consume) is the ratio of total consumption to total income, while MPC (Marginal Propensity to Consume) is the ratio of change in consumption to change in income.

Key Differences

The Average Propensity to Consume (APC) is a macroeconomic concept that measures the fraction of total income that is spent on consumption. In contrast, the Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC) measures the rate at which consumption changes as income changes, essentially indicating how much of an additional dollar of income will be spent.
APC is calculated by dividing total consumption by total income over a period. It provides an average ratio for an economy. MPC, however, is the derivative of the consumption function, calculated by dividing the change in consumption by the change in income. It is a more dynamic measure, reflecting immediate consumer responses to income changes.
APC is a broader indicator, useful for understanding overall consumption patterns in an economy. It reflects the general tendency of how income is allocated to consumption. MPC is a crucial indicator in Keynesian economics, offering insights into how income increments influence spending and thus the economy's overall health.
Policymakers study APC to gauge the overall spending behavior of a population, which can inform broad economic policies. MPC is particularly relevant for short-term fiscal policies, as it helps in understanding the effectiveness of stimulus measures and their impact on consumption.
APC can reveal the long-term consumption habits and tendencies of a population, showing how income stability affects spending. MPC provides insight into short-term economic behavior, indicating how consumers might react to immediate changes in their financial situation.

Comparison Chart


Ratio of total consumption to total income.
Ratio of change in consumption to change in income.

Calculation Basis

Based on total values over a period.
Based on incremental changes.

Economic Interpretation

Reflects average consumption behavior.
Indicates responsiveness of consumption to income changes.

Policy Relevance

Used for understanding overall spending patterns.
Important for short-term fiscal policy and stimulus measures.

Behavioral Insight

Shows long-term consumption habits.
Reveals short-term economic responses to financial changes.

APC and MPC Definitions


APC indicates the average propensity to spend.
The country's high APC suggests a strong consumer spending culture.


MPC is crucial in Keynesian economic theories.
In Keynesian models, MPC is used to calculate the multiplier effect.


APC measures the general spending behavior in an economy.
Economists use APC to assess how income is distributed in consumption.


MPC indicates how additional income affects spending.
A high MPC suggests that people are likely to spend more of their extra income.


APC is the ratio of consumption to income.
An APC of 0.75 means that 75% of total income is spent on consumption.


MPC shows the responsiveness of consumption to income changes.
A low MPC indicates that consumers are less likely to increase spending with additional income.


APC reflects long-term consumption tendencies.
A stable APC indicates consistent spending habits over time.


MPC is the ratio of change in consumption to change in income.
An MPC of 0.6 means for every additional dollar earned, 60 cents is spent.


APC shows how income is allocated to consumption.
A decreasing APC might indicate increased savings or investments.


MPC reflects immediate consumer responses to income changes.
Policymakers consider MPC to predict the impact of tax cuts on spending.


(military) an armored vehicle (usually equipped with treads) that is used to transport infantry


A drug combination found in some over-the-counter headache remedies (Aspirin and Phenacetin and Caffeine)


What determines MPC?

MPC is determined by the ratio of change in consumption to change in income.

How is APC calculated?

APC is calculated by dividing total consumption by total income.

What is the meaning of MPC?

MPC means Marginal Propensity to Consume.

Does APC change with income levels?

Yes, APC typically decreases as income increases, indicating a higher saving rate.

What does an MPC of 1 mean?

An MPC of 1 means that all additional income is spent on consumption.

Does a high MPC indicate economic growth?

A high MPC often suggests that increased income will lead to higher consumer spending, potentially spurring economic growth.

What does APC stand for?

APC stands for Average Propensity to Consume.

Is a high APC good for the economy?

A high APC can indicate strong consumer spending, which can stimulate economic growth.

Can APC ever be more than 1?

Yes, APC can be more than 1 if consumption exceeds income, often through borrowing or using savings.

Does APC vary across countries?

Yes, APC varies based on economic conditions and cultural factors in different countries.

Does MPC affect the savings rate in an economy?

Yes, a higher MPC usually means a lower savings rate.

Can MPC be used to predict economic recovery?

Yes, a rising MPC might indicate increasing consumer confidence, suggesting economic recovery.

Is MPC relevant for tax policy?

Yes, understanding MPC helps in designing effective tax policies to stimulate spending.

Can APC be negative?

No, APC cannot be negative as it represents a proportion of income spent.

How does inflation impact MPC?

Inflation can reduce the real value of income, potentially affecting MPC.

Is APC important for long-term economic planning?

Yes, APC provides insights into long-term consumption patterns, crucial for economic planning.

What affects the MPC in an economy?

Factors like income levels, consumer confidence, and fiscal policies can affect MPC.

Can government spending influence MPC?

Yes, government spending and policies can influence consumer behavior and MPC.

How do economic crises impact APC?

Economic crises can lead to changes in APC as consumers adjust their spending habits.

Do demographic factors influence APC?

Yes, factors like age, income level, and family size can influence APC.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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