How Productivity Is Determined

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HOW PRODUCTIVITY IS DETERMINED

Productivity is the quantity of goods and services produced from each unit of labor input. Productivity's key role in determining living standards is as true for nations as it is for stranded sailors. Recall that an economy's gross domestic product (GDP) measures two things at once: the total income earned by everyone in the economy and the total expenditure on the economy's output of goods and services. GDP can measure these two things simultaneously because, for the economy as a whole, they must be equal. Put simply, an economy's income is the economy's output. Productivity can be determined by the below factors

Physical Capital per Worker. Workers are more productive if they have tools with which to work. The stock of equipment and structures used to produce goods and services is called physical capital, or just capital. For example, when woodworkers make furniture, they use saws, lathes, and drill presses. More tools allow the woodworkers to produce their output more quickly and more accurately: A worker with only basic hand tools can make less furniture each week than a worker with sophisticated and specialized woodworking equipment.

Human Capital per Worker. A second determinant of productivity is human capital. Human capital is the economist's term for the knowledge and skills that workers acquire through education, training, and experience. Human capital includes the skills accumulated in early childhood programs, grade school, high school, college, and on-the-job training for adults in the labor force. Education, training, and experience are less tangible than lathes, bulldozers, and buildings, but human capital is like physical capital in many ways. Like physical capital, human capital raises a nation's ability to produce goods and services. Also like physical capital, human capital is a produced factor of production. Producing human capital requires inputs in the form of teachers, libraries, and student...
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