Implicit Cost Explained: Definition and Examples


Discover the essence of implicit costs, a vital element in business decisions. Uncover their impact on resource allocation, opportunity choices, and overall economic profit. This summary offers a quick preview of the article’s exploration of how implicit costs shape the intricate landscape of business dynamics.

Understanding implicit costs

An implicit cost, also known as an imputed, implied, or notional cost, is a vital concept in the realm of business economics. Unlike explicit costs, implicit costs are not exchanged in cash and are not recorded for accounting purposes. Implicit costs entail the opportunity cost incurred when a company employs its internal resources for a particular project without receiving explicit compensation.

Implicit costs reflect the potential income foregone without directly affecting profits. These costs are closely associated with opportunity costs, representing the benefits missed out on when a business chooses one option over another. For instance, a company may forgo revenue by using its assets internally instead of leasing them to a third party.

Economists consider both implicit and explicit costs when calculating total economic profit, making implicit costs an essential element in understanding a company’s financial performance.

Implicit costs vs. explicit costs

The distinction between implicit costs and explicit costs is crucial for effective financial decision-making. Implicit costs, unlike explicit ones, involve intangible expenses that do not involve cash exchanges. Implicit costs are opportunity costs, reflecting potential gains lost due to resource allocation decisions. On the other hand, explicit costs encompass tangible expenses such as rent, salaries, and other operational costs that are recorded in a company’s financial statements.

Implicit costs are challenging to measure precisely, making them more subjective compared to explicit costs. While explicit costs contribute to accounting profit and economic profit calculations, implicit costs play a crucial role in evaluating overall economic profit.

Examples of implicit costs

Implicit costs manifest in various scenarios, demonstrating their significance in business operations:

  • Loss of Interest Income: Implicit costs include the potential interest income that could have been earned from funds invested elsewhere, but were utilized internally.
  • Depreciation of Assets: Businesses often face implicit costs through the depreciation of machinery and other capital assets used in operations.
  • Allocated Time: When company owners dedicate time to maintaining the business instead of other ventures, the implicit cost arises from the unexplored opportunities.
  • Employee Training: Training new employees involves implicit costs, such as the time and wages of existing employees who provide training.
  • Salary Sacrifice: Small business owners may choose to forgo a salary in the early stages to enhance revenue, leading to an implicit cost in terms of the owner’s skills.

Consider the following pros and cons of implicit costs.

  • Reflects opportunity costs and potential gains
  • Essential for accurate economic profit calculations
  • Subjective and challenging to quantify
  • Not recorded for accounting purposes

Key takeaways

  • Implicit costs represent opportunity costs and potential income foregone.
  • They are not exchanged for cash and are unrecorded for accounting purposes.
  • Economists consider implicit costs alongside explicit costs for total economic profit calculations.
  • Implicit costs contribute to effective resource allocation decisions.
  • Examples of implicit costs include loss of interest income, depreciation of assets, and salary sacrifice.
View Article Sources
  1. Explicit and implicit costs and accounting and economic profit – KhanAcademy
  2. What Is the Opportunity Cost of Capital? – SuperMoney
  3. Interest Coverage Ratio, Formula, and Examples – SuperMoney