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Encyclopedia > Workers

In classical economics and all micro-economics labour is one of three factors of production, the others being land and capital. It is a measure of the work done by human beings. There are macro-economic system 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 counterposing macro-economic system theories that think human capital is a contradiction in terms.

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the Labor movement
Child labor
Labor in economics
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Compensation and Measurement

The price of labour is called a wage, and the price of 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 per over a period (typically a week, a month, or a year)
  • total compensation = earnings + benefits
  • income = total compensation + unearned income
  • economic rent = total compensation - opportunity cost

Economists measure labour in terms of hours worked, total wages, or efficiency.


Types of labour

See also


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