in the USSR, the branch of economic science that studies the social organization of labor (hiring practices, cooperation and division of labor, distribution of the social product, and reproduction of labor power).
Labor economics studies the theoretical principles and objective economic laws that determine the most rational use of social labor at the various levels represented by the enterprise, the branch, and the national economy as a whole; it devises specific techniques to ensure the scientifically justified organization and planning of labor in socialist society; and it analyzes the basic differences between the socialist and the capitalist organization of labor, the superiority of socialism in this area, and the features that distinguish the organization of labor at different stages of communist construction.
Among the pressing issues of labor economics are (1) the development of methods ensuring a more effective coupling of material and moral incentives to increase production efficiency, (2) higher labor productivity, (3) better product quality, and (4) economical utilization of material resources. Problems that are an important concern of labor economics are those related to the wages of workers in the national economy—namely, improving the wage rate system as the basis of state regulation of wages, improving the system of bonuses for workers and office employees, and instituting a more efficient system of wage payments to kolkhoz workers.
Labor economics is related to various technical and economic sciences—the latter category including national economic planning, statistics, and finance. The scientific and practical recommendations of labor economics provide the foundation for a common methodological approach to such questions as national economic planning and labor accounting. At the same time, labor economics is based on the data of branch disciplines, such as industrial and construction economics; it resolves internal production problems through the extensive use of data pertaining to the technical implementation of labor rates, and it applies the conclusions and methods of the sociology of labor and labor statistics.
A considerable proportion of the problems related to the scientific organization of labor—whether in an enterprise, institution, or branch—fall within the province of labor economics. The scientific organization of labor constitutes a separate field of study. Many of the questions arising in labor economics are resolved on the basis of conclusions drawn from the biological disciplines—specifically, physiology, occupational hygiene, and labor psychology.
Labor economics interacts to a significant degree with labor law, which regulates the juridical labor relations of workers and employees. The labor law provides for certain economic relations that are studied by labor economics (for example, the extent of workers’ participation in collective work, length of time allotted to work and to leisure, labor discipline, labor safety, and special measures for the protection of working women and youth).
Research studies in the area of labor economics are carried out in the academic institutions, in the scientific institutions of the various branches, in the higher educational institutions throughout the country, and in various subdivisions of the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and of the Union republics. The results of labor economics research are extensively utilized by planning and management bodies for production planning, design, organization, and management. Research studies in labor economics are published in the journals Sotsialisticheskii trud, Voprosy ekonomiki, Planovoe khoziaistvo, and Ekonomicheskie nauki. All the central scientific and technical journals of the various branches of the national economy have special sections devoted to the labor economics of the particular branch.
REFERENCESProgramma KPSS. Moscow, 1976.
Ekonomika truda. Edited by N. A. Ivanova and G. I. Mechkovskii. Moscow, 1976.
Metodologicheskie problemy ekonomiki truda[vols. 1–2]. Edited by E. I. Kapustin. Moscow, 1969–70.
L. S. KHEIFETS