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Meaning And Characteristics Of Labour

Extensive and Intensive Cultivation
Let us discuss the two methods of cultivation the farmers adopt for enhancing activity.
  • Extensive Cultivation - It means more and more land is brought into cultivation for production enhancement. In the nations like US and Canada, there are vast land are left out empty. Those are available in cheap rates but no labour comes for its cultivation. The farmers bring more and more land under cultivation in order to increase production. This is called Extensive cultivation.

  • Intensive Cultivation - On the other hand instead of bringing more land for cultivation, more capital and labour are applied to the same land which is being cultivated to enhance productivity of land is termed as Intensive Cultivation. This method is followed in the nations like old Europe, England, Germany and France where land is scarce and its area too.

  • Differences of the two - Extensive method uses old techniques whereas Intensive uses modern techniques by the farmer. The improved techniques that are used in the intensive method are quality seeds, insecticides, periodic crop rotation and irrigation, modern tools and equipments etc.
Meaning of Labour

Labour is the act of mental and physical activity on some work for some monetary benefits. Any work or services rendered by the professionals such as doctors, engineers, teachers etc are all included in the labour. Alternatively, any activity done with the intention of happiness or pleasure or doing any art work for hobby will not count in labour. Otherwise, if the art work is sold out for some consideration, then the same will be called as labour. S.E.Thomas defines as "Labour connotes all human efforts of body or mid which are undertaken in the expectation of reward."

Characteristics of Labour

Labour has some characteristic features. They are:
  • Labour is Perishable - Labour is highly perishable than the other factors of production. They cannot be warehoused. They cannot be postponed or accumulated for the next day. Once the time is lost it is lost forever.

  • Labour cannot be isolated from the labourer - Any other factors of production can be separated but not labour from labourers. Labour and labourers are indispensable for each other. For instance, it is not possible to bring the ability of a teacher to teach in the school, leaving the teacher at home.

  • Less mobility of labour - when compared to capital and other goods, labour is less mobile. Capital can be mobilised from one place to another and labour cannot be transported from one place to another easily. A labourer may not be ready to go off places leaving his native place.

  • Work bargaining power of labour - It means, the ability of buyer to purchase articles at least price and that of seller to a higher price is called work bargaining power. A labourer sells his labour for wages and the employer buys by compensating money. Mostly labourers have poor bargaining power since they are weak and poor whereas employers are comparatively having high bargaining power for hiring labourers.

  • Inelastic supply of labour - In any particular time period, the elasticity of supply is inelastic in any nation. It means their supply can neither be raised nor subsided. They cannot be made to order like other goods.

  • Labourer is a human being and not a machine - Each and every labourer has his own likes and dislikes. They should not be hurt for they have feelings. Also they cannot work 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. We cannot become owner for a labourer is the actual sense.

  • Increase in wages may reduce the supply of labour - In the event if the wages are high, the whole family members are to work for their living. On the other hand if the wages are high, then only one family member may work and hence the supply reduces.

  • Difficult to find out the cost of production of labour - It is difficult to ascertain the cost of labour done by a labourer since it is based on his efficiency, experience, human morale. Also if the labour is a professional, it is not easy to ascertain his cost of production such as clothing, education, food etc.

  • Labour creates capital - Capital which is considered as a separate factor of production, is in reality is the result of reward for labour. He earns property out of production. Therefore, capital is formulated and accumulated by labour. It is evident that labour is more important in the process of production than the capital since capital is the outcome of the labourers' labour.
Productive and Unproductive Labour

Adam smith has explained both the productive and unproductive labour in a slender sense. As per him, workforce involved in producing tangible commodities or vendible commodities were considered as productive. On the other hand, those involved in providing direct services to society were considered unproductive workforce since their "work perished in the very instant of their performance."

Thus labour making material goods was productive and labours producing consumable goods consisting of services of the professionals were unproductive. He also defined productive and unproductive labour in another sense. Productive labour adds net value to the product and unproductive labour does not add net value.

Robbins considers "whether the labour is productive or unproductive does not depend upon its physical or mental nature of job. Rather is depends upon its relative scarcity in relation to its demand. All kinds of labour which has a demand and receives a wage are regarded as productive."

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