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Difference Between Accounting and Economic Profit

There has been a long-standing belief that accounting and economics are intertwined with one another. They are both deeply concerned with the state of a company’s or business firm’s finances within the organization. Within this framework, both are concerned with the same variables and the impact that they have on profit. In spite of this, it is clear that these two indicators create very different portraits of the financial performance of a corporation. There are substantial distinctions between economic profit and accounting profit, despite the fact that the idea may be the same.

In this article, we’ll explain the two types of profit in detail and the key differences between them.

What is Accounting Profit?

Accounting profit is a financial indicator that offers a picture of the financial performance of a company through the use of accounting profit. It is a representation of the overall earnings or net income of a company, taking into account the costs that are incurred in the operations of the company that are both explicit and measurable. The net income of a corporation, often known as the bottom line, is a word that is commonly used.

What is the approach to calculating accounting profit? After deducting all of those specific expenses from the overall amount of money that the company produces, you will arrive at the accounting profit. Accounting profit is typically reported on a quarterly or annual basis, depending on the circumstances.

Accounting profit = Total revenue – Explicit costs

What is Economic Profit?

At this point in time, economic profit is a measure of a company’s financial success that is both more complete and more comprehensive than accounting profit. Not only does it take into account the explicit costs, but it also takes into account the informal or opportunity costs that are linked with the utilization of resources. In its most basic form, economic profit offers a more comprehensive perspective by taking into account the overall cost of resources, which includes the value of chances that are not taken advantage of.

Economic profit is equal to total revenue minus the difference between explicit costs and implicit costs, often known as opportunity costs.

Economic profit = Total revenue – (Explicit costs – Implicit or Opportunity costs)

When compared to accounting profit, economic profit is a more accurate reflection of a company’s success since it takes into consideration the concept of opportunity costs. When a company’s economic profit is positive, it indicates that the company is making more than it could potentially make by employing its resources in different ways. In contrast, a negative economic profit indicates that the corporation could be better off investing its resources elsewhere. This is because the company is losing money.

Difference between Accounting Profit and Economic Profit

Profitability Assessment

Accounting Profit is like the classic way of figuring out how much money a business is making. It looks at the financial gains from day-to-day operations. Economic profit, on the other hand, gives a real look at profitability. It factors in the concept of opportunity costs and predicts what could have been if you went for other options.

Decision-Making Implications

Accounting Profit is your guide for regular financial checks. It gives you a peek into the business’s money health based on clear costs. Economic profit, however, gives decision-makers a deeper view, thinking about potential gains from different resource uses. It’s like the strategist’s toolkit for making smart choices.

Inclusion of Opportunity Costs

Accounting Profit sticks to the basics – direct expenses, taxes, and interest. It doesn’t dive into opportunity costs. Economic Profit, though, it’s the whole package. It thinks about both clear and hidden costs, including opportunity costs. It’s like considering the value of the road not taken in decision-making.

Scope of Costs

Accounting profit is limited to measurable and quantifiable costs incurred in the production process. It gives you a clear view of how you’re doing financially. Economic profit, on the other hand, takes into account all costs, both explicit and implicit. It gives a full picture of what our resources are really costing us.

Accounting Profit vs. Economic Profit: Comparison Chart


Unlike accounting profit, economic profit gives a clear picture of a company’s financial performance by taking into account opportunity costs. If economic profit is positive, it means the business is earning more than it could by using its resources in alternative ways. On the flip side, a negative economic profit suggests it might be smarter to use resources somewhere else.


What is the difference between economic profit and accounting profit?

  • Economic Profit: Considers both explicit and implicit costs, including opportunity costs. It gives a complete picture of a company’s money game and how it’s performing.
  • Accounting Profit: Focuses on explicit costs like direct expenses, taxes, and interest. It provides a more traditional measure of financial success, but it excludes the opportunity costs.

What is the difference between accounting and economics?

  • Accounting: It’s the financial diary-keeping of a business—recording, reporting, and analyzing transactions. It’s all about historical and numbers stuff.
  • Economics: It looks at the bigger picture, considering resource allocation, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It dives into choices, behaviors, and concepts like opportunity cost, supply and demand, and market structures.

What is the difference between accounting income and economic income?

  • Accounting Income: Refers to the revenue generated and costs incurred as per accounting principles. It follows standard accounting rules and focuses on explicit costs to determine profitability.
  • Economic Income: Considers both explicit and implicit costs, including opportunity costs. It paints a bigger picture by thinking about missed opportunities.

Why is the difference between economic and accounting profit important?

Economic profit spills the beans on whether a business is adding value beyond the basics. It’s like seeing the full cost of resources, including what could have been.

What is the difference between accounting and economic costs?

  • Accounting Cost: Refers to the explicit, measurable costs incurred in the production process, such as wages, materials, and operating expenses.
  • Economic Cost: Considers both explicit and implicit costs, including opportunity costs. It gives the real scoop on what resources are truly costing.

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References :

[0]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAFG3ttYh88-business-accounting/

[1]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MABTTS2ZVcM-profit-dynamics/

[2]Edwards, Edgar O., and Philip W. Bell. The Theory and Measurement of Business Income. University of California Press, 2023.

[3]“Accounting Profit vs. Economic Profit: Formulas and Differences.” Upwork, 24 Mar. 2022, www.upwork.com/resources/accounting-profit-vs-economic-profit.

[4]Hargrave, Marshall. “Economic Profit vs. Accounting Profit: What's the Difference?” Investopedia, 13 Apr. 2023, www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/033015/what-difference-between-economic-profit-and-accounting-profit.asp.

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