Tiger Woods spends a lot of time walking around on grass. One of the most talented golfers of all time, he can hit a drive and sink a putt in a way that most casual golfers only dream of doing. Most likely, he is talented at other activities too. For example, let’s imagine that Woods can mew his lawn faster than anyone else. But just because he can mow his lawn fast, does this mean he should?

To answer this question, we can use the concepts of opportunity cost and comparative advantage. Let’s say that Woods can mow his lawn in 2 hours. In that same 2 hours, he could film a television commercial for Nike and earn $10,000. By contrast, Forrest Gump, the boy next door, can mow Woods’s lawn in 4 hours. In that same 4 hours, he could work at McDonald’s and earn $20.

In this example, Woods’s opportunity cost of mowing the lawn is $10,000 and Forrest’s opportunity cost is $20. Woods has an absolute advantage in mowing lawns because he can do the work with a lower input of time. Yet Forrest has a comparative advantage in mowing lawns because he has the lower opportunity cost