labour economics


labour economics

Study of how workers are allocated among jobs, how their rates of pay are determined, and how their efficiency is affected by various factors. The labour force of a country includes all those who work for gain in any capacity as well as those who are unemployed but seeking work. Many factors influence how workers are utilized and how much they are paid, including qualities of the labour force itself (such as health, level of education, distribution of special training and skills, and degree of mobility), structural characteristics of the economy (e.g., proportions of heavy manufacturing, technology, and service industries), and institutional factors (including the extent and power of labour unions and employers' associations and the presence of minimum-wage laws). Miscellaneous factors such as custom and variations in the business cycle are also considered. Certain general trends are widely accepted by labour economists; for instance, wage levels tend to be higher in jobs that involve high risk, in industries that require higher levels of education or training, in economies that have high proportions of such industries, and in industries that are heavily unionized.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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