School Improvement in Maryland
Government/Content Standards/
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GLOSSARY: GOVERNMENT
 
Absolute advantage  Having a cost advantage in producing a good or service.
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Amendment (constitutional) Changes in, or additions to, a constitution. In the United States proposed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures. Ratified by approval of three-fourths of the states.
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Articles of Confederation  First constitution of the United States, 1781. Created a weak national government, replaced in 1789 by the constitution of the United States.
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Authority The right to control or direct the actions of others, legitimized by law, morality, custom or consent.
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BCE  An abbreviation for Before Common Era (formerly BC) used in giving dates before the year in which Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
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Buyer  An individual or group of people who purchase resources, goods/and or services
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Capital resources  The goods that are manufactured and constructed by people and used to produce other goods and services, including but not limited to factories, warehouses, roads, bridges, machinery, ports, dams, and tools; also called capital goods. (Money is not a capital resource.)
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CE An abbreviation for Common Era (formerly AD) used in giving dates after the year in which Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
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Checks and Balances  Constitutional mechanisms that authorize each branch of government to share powers with the other branches and thereby check their activities. For example, the president may veto legislation passed by congress; the Senate must confirm major executive appointments; and the courts may declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.
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Citizen A member of a political society who therefore owes allegiance to and is entitled to protection by and from the government.
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Citizenship  Status of being a member of a political society; one who owes allegiance to the government and is entitled to its protection and to political rights.
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City-state  An autonomous state consisting of a city and surrounding territory.
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Civilization A culture that has developed systems of specialization, a written language, arts, sciences, religion, and government.
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Civil law  Body of law that deals with the private rights of individuals, as distinguished from criminal law.
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Civil rights  Protections and privileges given to all United States Citizens by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
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Command economy  An economic system in which economic decisions made to answer the basic economic questions of "what", "how", and "for whom" are made by an authority such as a feudal lord or a government planning agency.
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Common good  That which benefits society as a whole; health, safety, and welfare. Also known as public good.
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Community improvement  Citizen actions aimed at improving the community.
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Comparative advantage  Having a cost advantage in producing one type of good or service as compared to producing another type of good or service.
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Consumer  Individual or group of people who use goods and services to satisfy their economic wants.
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Consumer goods  Goods for satisfying people's needs rather than for producing other goods and services.
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Consumption The use of resources, goods, and services to satisfy economic wants.
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Criminal law  Body of law that deals with disputes or actions involving criminal penalties, it regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes, and provides punishment for criminal acts.
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Culture  Learned behavior of people which includes their belief systems and languages, their social relationships, their institutions and organizations, and their material — good food, clothing, buildings, tools, and machines.
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Demand The different quantities of a resource, good, or service that will be purchased at various possible prices at a given point in time; demand is generally presented as a schedule of prices and quantities. It can also be represented graphically as a demand curve.
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Democracy A form of government in which political control is exercised by all the people, either directly or through their elected representatives.
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Diffusion  The spread of people, ideas, technology, and products scross space and through time.
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Distribution  The movement, transfer, or disbursement of goods and services from the point of production to the point of consumption.
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Due process of law  The right of every citizen to be protected against arbitrary action by the government.
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Economic growth Growth that occurs when increasing amounts of goods and services are produced over the long term; generally measured as GDP (gross domestic product) or GDP per capita and compared on a quarterly and annual basis. Economic growth is a goal for which economies strive in order to improve the material standard of living of the society.
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Economic incentives  Factors that motivate and influence economic behavior, such as profit or other financial or material rewards.
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Economic Institutions  The formal and informal structures which guide or characterize economic activity in a society, which may include but are not limited to households, families, corporations, government agencies, banks, labor unions, cooperatives, stock exchanges, the use of Money, collective bargaining, traditions, controlling values and beliefs, and systems of property ownership
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Economic resources  The natural, human and capital resources that are used to produce goods and services; also called factors of production
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Economic system The collection of institutions, laws, activities, controlling values and human motivations that collectively provide a framework for economic decision-making of individuals and groups in a society; the organizing structure a society chooses to answer the basic economic questions of what to produce, for whom to produce (who gets the goods and services) and how (and how much) to organize resources to produce goods and services.
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Economic wants  Human needs and desires that can be satisfied by consuming goods and services, including but not limited to such needs as hunger, thirst, protection from the elements, and good health and such desires as entertainment and a pleasing physical appearance; sometimes described as survival wants and luxury wants.
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Economics The study of how people, individually and in groups (families, businesses, governments, organizations) choose to use their relatively scarce productive resources to satisfy their wants.
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Environment  Everything in and on earth’s surface and its atmosphere within which organisms, communities or objects exist.
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Entrepreneur An individual or group who takes the risk to start a new business or introduce a new good or service into the Marketplace in the hope of earning a profit.
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Equilibrium price The price at which the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded for a resource, good or service; also called the market-clearing price.
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Equal protection under the law  The idea that no individual or group may receive special privileges from nor be unjustly discriminated against by the law.
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Equality of opportunity  An equal chance for all persons in such areas as education, employment, and political participation.
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Exchange rate  The price of one country’s currency in terms of another country’s currency.
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Federalism  A form of political organization in which governmental power is divided between a central government and territorial subdivisions.
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Feudalism  A system for organizing and governing society based on land and service; found in Europe in the Middle Ages.
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Financial institution  A business which serves as an intermediary to bring together savers, investors and borrowers. Banks, credit unions, savings banks and brokerage house are examples of financial institutions.
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Fiscal policy  A course of action which seeks to achieve socioeconomic goals by affecting the level of taxes and government expenditures. In the U.S., fiscal policy is largely the responsibility of the President and U.S. Congress.
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Foreign Policy  Politics of the federal government directed to matters beyond United States borders, especially relations with other countries.
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Free trade  Exchange of goods and services without barriers of trade.
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Geographic characteristics  Physical and human characteristics of a place or region.
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Geographic tool  A device used to compile, organize, manipulate, store, report or display geographic information, including maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, satellite-produced images, geographic information systems, and computer databases, as well as other software.
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Geography  An integrative discipline that brings together the physical and human-made dimensions of the world in the study of people, places, and environments. Its subject matter is earth's surface and the processes that shape it, the relationships between people and the environment and the connections between people and places.
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Goods   Physically tangible objects that can be used to satisfy economic wants, including but not limited to food, shoes, cars, houses, books and furniture.
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Human-made features A sub-category of human characteristics of places and regions that include features on the earth's surface constructed by people, including but not limited to village, town, city, building, roads, airports, canals, dams, port, bridges, and monuments.
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Human characteristics  Traits that are used to describe the peoples of places, past and present; their religion, language, settlement pattern, economic activity, political system and their modification of the environment.
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Human resources  The health, strength, talented, education and skills that human can use to produce goods and services: also called human capital.
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Institutions A significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture.
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Interdependence The condition in which events in one part of the community, state, nation or world or one sector of the economy affects events in another part or sector; occurs as a result of the and, hence, the need to exchange resources, goods and services with other producing and consuming units.
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Interest  Payment for the use of borrowed money; interest is paid by borrowers and paid to lenders and savers.
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Interest group An organized body of individuals who share some goals and try to influence public policy to meet these goals.
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Investment The process of using savings or resources to increase the economy's productive capacity; investment in capital goods occurs when savings are used to finance the production of new capital goods and/or new technology to increase productivity; investment in human capital or human resources occurs when the health, education and training of the population are increased.
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Judicial review A doctrine that permits the federal courts to declare unconstitutional, and thus null and void, acts of the congress, the executive, and the states. The precedent for Judicial review was established in the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison.
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Land use The way in which humans use the earth's surface. Uses are classified as urban, rural, agricultural, forested, etc., with more specific sub-classifications useful for specific purposes.
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Legend  Synonymous with map key; used to explain the symbols on a map.
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Litigation  A legal contest by judicial process.
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Location  The position of a point on the earth’s surface expressed by means of a grid (absolute) or in relation (relative) to the position of other places.
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Manifest Destiny  A mid 19th-century belief in the inevitability of United States expansion to the Pacific Ocean.
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Map elements Essential components of a map such as the title, author, date, compass rose, scale, legend, border, grid, source information, and index.
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Market  An arrangement wherein buyers and sellers can exchange resources, goods, and services. A market may be a physical place such as a store or an auction gallery, or it may occur through other arrangements such a telephone and internet transactions; a market is said to exist whenever or wherever a buyer and seller enter into an exchange.
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Market economy  A system of decentralized economic decision making in which consumers, producers, workers, savers and investors interact in markets through the forces of demand and supply to set prices in order to answer the basic economic questions of what, how and for whom.
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Market failure  the condition that occurs when markets cannot, or do not, work to allocate resources efficiently to produce goods and services through the interaction of supply and demand.
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Media The different means of communicating information to reach large audiences.
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Migration  The act or process of people moving from one place to another with the intent of staying at the destination permanently or for a relatively long period of time.
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Militarism A policy of aggressive military preparedness.
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Mixed economy A economic system which primarily relies on the forces of supply and demand to set prices (market economy), but also uses a variety of government interventions to cope with macroeconomic stability and market failures.
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Monetary policy A course of action which seeks to affect the amount of money available in the economy and its cost (interest rates) in order to help the economy grow, keep prices stable and keep employment at a high level. In the United States, monetary policy is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve System; tools of monetary policy include open market operations, adjustments in reserve requirements held on deposits and changes in the discount rate charged to financial institutions.
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Monetary system  The way people in an economy choose to use money to exchange for goods and services.
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Money  That which is accepted as payment in the exchange of resources, goods and services; also serves as a unit of account, permitting its use in pricing resources, goods and services.
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Movement  In geography, the interaction across earth space that connects places. This interaction occurs with flows of human phenomena, such as goods, people, and ideas
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Nation  A cultural concept for a group of people bound together by a strong sense of shared values and cultural characteristics, including language, religion, and common history.
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Natural hazards  A process or event in the physical environment that has consequences harmful to humans, such as an earthquake.
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Natural resources  The renewable and nonrenewable gifts of nature that can be used to produce foods and services, including but not limited to land, water, animals, minerals, trees, climate, soil, fire, seeds, grain and fruits.
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Opportunity cost  The foregone benefit of the next best alternative when an economic decision is made.
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Perception  The feelings, attitudes, and images people have of different places, peoples, and environments.
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Physical features A subcategory of physical characteristics of places and regions derived from the physical environment, including but not limited to landforms (mountain, hill, plain, plateau, valley, beach, desert, island, peninsula and marsh) and continents, and bodies of water (ocean, river, creek, bay, lake, sea).
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Physical characteristics Traits that are used to describe the natural environment of the place. Physical or natural characteristics may be related to climate (e.g., polar), vegetation (e.g., rainforest), soil (e.g., prairie), landform (e.g., mountain), and body of water (e.g., bay).
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Places  Parts of the Earth’s surface, large or small, that have been given meaning by and for humans. They include: continents, islands, countries, regions, states, cities, neighborhoods, villages, rural areas, and uninhabited areas. Places usually have names and boundaries.
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Political party  Any group, however loosely organized, that seeks to elect government officials under a given label.
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Policy  A definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions. Policy may be set by governments, non-governmental organizations or other groups
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Price  What is paid to buy a good or service, and what is received when a good or service is sold.
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Price ceiling  A maximum price that is set so that the price of a resource, good, or service will not be permitted, die to the forces of supply and demand, to rise above the maximum. Rent control is an example of a price ceiling.
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Price floor  A minimum price that is set so that the price of a resource, good and service will not be permitted, due to the forces of supply and demand to fall below the minimum. Price floors are sometimes set for agricultural products.
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Principle A basic rule that guides or influences thought or action.
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Producer An individual or a group of people who combine economic resources to make goods and/or services.
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Production The act of creating goods and services by combining economic resources.
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Productivity  The amount of output that is produced per unit of input; usually expressed in terms of output per unit of time.
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Protectionism A policy of using barriers to trade which may limit the free flow of goods, services, and resources.
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Public goods Goods or services which are provided by government, generally in cases where the private sector will not provide them because the conditions of non-exclusion and/or shared consumption make it unprofitable for private businesses to do so.
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Public policy  Government responses to public issues.
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Region  An area with one or more common characteristics or features, which give it a measure of homogeneity and make it different from surrounding areas.
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Regulatory Policy A course of action which seeks to correct for certain market failures and to achieve certain socioeconomic goals directly through legislation and indirectly through the creation of regulatory agencies that address particular failures or goals.
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Rule of law The principle in which the law applies to government officials as much as to ordinary citizens.
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Saving  The condition that exists when individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole do not consume all current income.
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Scale The measure of distance on a map as it compares to actual distance on the earth's surface.
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Scarcity  The condition that results from the imbalance between relatively unlimited economic wants and the relatively limited resources, goods and services available to satisfy those wants.
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Seller  An individual or group of people whom exchange goods or services for monetary or non-monetary gain.
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Separation of powers  The division of governmental power among several institutions that must cooperate in decision making.
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Services  Physically intangible actions that can be performed to satisfy economic wants, including but not limited to medical care, dental care, haircuts, education, police protection, fire protection, national defense.
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Settlement patterns  The spatial distribution and arrangement of human habitations including rural and urban centers.
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Shortage  A market situation in which the price is set below the equilibrium price, thus causing the quantity demanded to be greater than the quantity supplied.
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Socioeconomic goals  Broad social goals that relate to economics and guide individual and society in making decisions; social economic goals will vary in priority from one country to another and from one time period to another, depending on the nature of the political, social, and economic goals of the society and the political, social, and economic conditions which exist at the time.
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Sovereign nation  A nation that is independent of all others.
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Spatial distribution  The distribution of phenomena on the earth's surface.
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Specialization  The production of a narrower range of goods and services than is consumed by an individual or group.
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Supply The different quantities of a resource, good or service that will be offered for sale at various possible prices during a specific time period; supply is generally presented as schedule of prices and quantities; it can also be represented graphically as a supply curve.
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Surplus A market situation in which the price is set above the equilibrium price thus causing the quantity demanded to be less than the quantity supplied.
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Standard of living The quantity and quality of goods and services available in an economy.
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Tax Mandatory payment to the government.
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Thematic map A map representing a specific theme or topic; for example population density, climate, growing season, grain production, transportation routes, oil production.
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Trade To engage in the exchange, purchase or sale of goods.
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Trade-off A situation that occurs when choices or decisions involve giving up (trading off) some of one thing to get more of something else.
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Traditional market economy A system wherein economic decisions that people and groups make to answer the basic economic questions of "what", "for whom" and "how" generally repeat the decisions made at an earlier time or by an earlier generation.