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The importance of fixed costs in animal health systems

Author(s) : C.A. Tisdell & D. Adamson

Summary :

In this paper, the authors detail the structure and optimal management of health systems as influenced by the presence and level of fixed costs. Unlike variable costs, fixed costs cannot be altered, and are thus independent of the level of veterinary activity in the short run. Their importance is illustrated by using both single-period and multi-period models. It is shown that multi-stage veterinary decision-making can often be envisaged as a sequence of fixed-cost problems. In general, it becomes clear that, the higher the fixed costs, the greater the net benefit of veterinary activity must be, if such activity is to be economic. The authors also assess the extent to which it pays to reduce fixed costs and to try to compensate for this by increasing variable costs. Fixed costs have major implications for the industrial structure of the animal health products industry and for the structure of the private veterinary services industry. In the former, they favour market concentration and specialisation in the supply of products. In the latter, they foster increased specialisation.


Animal health systems – Economic decision-making – Fixed costs – Industrial structure – International cooperation – Overhead costs – Variable costs – Veterinary education.

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