AskDefine | Define workers




  1. Plural of worker
In economics, labour (or labor) is a measure of the work done by human beings. It is conventionally contrasted with such other factors of production as land and capital. There are theories which have created a concept called human capital (referring to the skills that workers possess, not necessarily their actual work), although there are also counter posing macro-economic system theories that think human capital is a contradiction in terms.

Compensation and measurement

Wage is a basic compensation for labour, and the compensation for labour per period of time is referred to as the wage rate. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Other frequently used terms include:
  • wage = payment per unit of time (typically an hour)
  • earnings = payment accrued over a period (typically a week, a month, or a year)
  • total compensation = earnings + other benefits for labour
  • income = total compensation + unearned income
  • economic rent = total compensation - opportunity cost
Economists measure labour in terms of hours worked, total wages, or efficiency.
  • total cost = fixed cost + variable cost

Marxian economics

In Marxian economics, the aim of labour economics is to provide insight and guidance for the optimal allocation of cooperative human labour. However, this optimality is not simply viewed as a "technical variable" as in micro-economics, because workers are not simply a "factor of production", but human beings who organize themselves and each other. Forms of labour cooperation can be oppressive, irrational and exploitative, or they can be beneficial, rational, or effective. That is to say, labour economics has a political dimension insofar as different workers and employers have different interests. There is a workers' point of view and an employer's point of view.
Marxian economists argue that the reason why labour economics receives little attention is because it has become viewed as a management issue. But this may hide that a particular form of organizing labour has little to do with economic efficiency, and more with getting a high income from an activity. Marxian economists believe that ultimately the most desirable form of labour organization in the workplace is where workers manage themselves collectively, and elect managers where necessary; too much management is inefficient, it just means that people get high incomes for doing very little, capitalizing on specialized knowledge or qualifications.

External links

Further reading

  • Simon Head, The New Ruthless Economy. Work and Power in the Digital Age, Oxford UP 2005, ISBN 0-19-517983-8
  • L. Ali Khan, The Dignity of Labor
workers in Arabic: عمل (جهد)
workers in Catalan: Treball (economia)
workers in Czech: Dílo
workers in Danish: Arbejde (samfundsvidenskab)
workers in German: Arbeit (Ökonomie)
workers in Spanish: Trabajo (sociología)
workers in Esperanto: Verko
workers in French: Travail (économie)
workers in Korean: 노동
workers in Italian: Lavoro
workers in Hebrew: עבודה (כלכלה)
workers in Hungarian: Munkaerő
workers in Malay (macrolanguage): Kerja
workers in Dutch: Arbeid (economie)
workers in Japanese: 労働
workers in Polish: Praca (działalność człowieka)
workers in Portuguese: Trabalho (economia)
workers in Quechua: Ch'amanaku
workers in Russian: Труд
workers in Simple English: Labour (economics)
workers in Slovak: Práca (ekonómia)
workers in Finnish: Työ
workers in Swedish: Arbete
workers in Ukrainian: Праця
workers in Yiddish: ארבעט
workers in Chinese: 劳动
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