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What is Labour and Labourer ? Meaning and Features of Labour

square What is Labour and Labourer ? Meaning ↓

Usually, the term 'Labour' is used for 'worker'. But, technically, it is not correct. Labour and Labourer (worker) are two different things.

Labour and Labourer

Labour is an ability to work. Labour is a broad concept because it includes both physical and mental labour (as per above picture). Labour is a primary or human factor of production. It indicates human resource.

Labourer is a person who owns labour. So labourer means worker. It is a person engaged in some work.

square Peculiarities / Features / Characteristics of Labour ↓

1. Labour is inseparable from labourer

Labour can not be separated from labourer. Worker sells their service and doesn't sell themselves.

2. Labour is a perishable factor

Labour can not be stored. Once the labour is lost, it can not be made up. Unemployed workers can not store their labour for future employment.

3. Cost of producing a labour cannot be determined

It is easy to calculate production cost of a commodity produced in an industry. But cost of producing a labour is a vague concept because it includes expenses incurred by parents on education of their children and other expenses incurred on them right from their birth date. It is impossible to estimate all such casts accurately.

4. Labour is an active factor of production

Other factors like land, capital are passive, but labour is an active factor of production. Being a human being, this factor has its own feelings, likes and dislikes, thinking power, etc. We can achieve better quality and level of production, if land and capital are employed properly in close association with Labour. So without labour, we cannot imagine the smooth conduct of production.

5. Labour is a heterogeneous factor

No two persons possess the same quality of labour. Skills and efficiency differs from person to person. So, some workers are more efficient than others in the same job.

6. Labour has imperfect mobility

Labour doesn't move easily from one occupation to another because of several factors like family and cultural background, limited educational and technical skills, lifestyle, housing and transport problems, language barrier, adaptability to new environments, etc.

7. Labour supply is inelastic in general

Supply of labour depends upon many factors like size of population, age and sex composition, desire to work, quality of education, attitude towards work, etc. Thus, supply cannot be changed easily according to changes in demand.

Hence, in general, labour supply is inelastic. But for a particular industry, it may be relatively elastic.

8. Labour is a human capital

Society makes investment in labour in the forms of education, health, training, etc. This improves efficiency of labour. So, it is a human capital.

9. Trade unionism is a factor of Labour

Workers collectively form their organization which is known as trade union. With this, they bargain with their employers and there by secure higher wages and better working conditions. Such trade unionism is not possible in other factors of production like land, else works only in case of labour (labourer).

10. Labour has a derived demand

Like other factors of production, labour has a derived / indirect demand. It contributes to production process.

11. Labour is a Mean as well as an End

Labour is a mean of production in factory. But outside the factory premises worker may be a consumer of that product. So, he might be an end user of that commodity.

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