Distribution According to Labor, Law of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Distribution According to Labor, Law of


an objective economic law of socialism, according to which most of the necessary product is distributed in conformity with the quantity and quality of labor expended by the workers in social production. Distribution according to labor is objectively necessary because the level of development of production under socialism does not create an abundance of consumer goods and does not provide for the complete and comprehensive satisfaction of people’s needs. With the elimination of the exploitation of man by man, no one has the right to appropriate the results of another person’s labor, and each person’s place in socialist society is determined solely by his labor achievements. However, in socialist society there are still considerable socioeconomic differences in the content and character of labor, which has not yet become a prime need for all the toiling people. Under these conditions, distribution must entail conformity between the measure of labor (the quantity and quality of labor expended by the worker) and the measure of consumption (the quantity of consumer goods received from society). Marx wrote: “The individual producer receives back from society—after the deductions have been made—exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 19, p. 18).

Distribution according to labor excludes the nonlabor income and parasitic consumption characteristic of capitalism. It provides each worker with the means of subsistence, according to his labor contribution to social production. Moreover, distribution according to labor provides for equality, regardless of sex, age, or nationality (equal wages for equal labor); involves all able-bodied citizens in labor; and promotes the improvement of skills and the borrowing of advanced experience. It also creates a prerequisite for the transition to the communist principle of distribution according to need: a direct material and moral interest among the workers in the results of their personal and collective labor, as well as in labor according to ability.

Under socialism, because there are two forms of ownership of the means of production, the law of distribution according to labor is manifested in two forms, as wages for workers and office employees and as payment for the labor of the members of agricultural cooperatives (kolkhozes). Because of the conditions associated with commodity-money relations and with differences between various types of labor, the law of distribution according to labor operates in a valuational form, which provides a comprehensive assessment of the quantity and quality of labor. This strengthens the effect of the law of distribution according to labor.

Under distribution according to labor, inequality in consumption is maintained among the producers, because workers of varying skill and abilities give society a varying quantity of labor and, consequently, receive from society unequal shares of the product. Moreover, the unequal satisfaction of needs is related to variations in the size and health of the workers’ families, for example. Under socialism, a portion of the necessary product, over and above what is used in distribution according to labor, is turned over to the workers by society, in the form of additional or supplementary services and payments from the social consumption funds. The purpose of these payments and services is to secure the comprehensive physical and intellectual development of the Soviet people by maintaining normal working and living conditions, safeguarding health, and providing broad access to education and to sports and cultural leisure activities. With the development of socialist production, services and payments from the social consumption funds account for a steadily growing share of consumption by the working people. The transition to communist distribution, which ensures the complete equality of the people in the satisfaction of needs, will be completed only after an abundance of material and cultural goods has been created and labor has been transformed into the prime need for all members of society.


Marx, K. Kritika Gotskoi programmy. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 19.
Lenin, V. I. Gosudarstvo i revoliutsiia. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 33.
Lenin, V. I. Ogosudarstve. Ibid., vol. 39.
Kurs politicheskoi ekonomii, 2nd ed., vol. 2. Edited by N. A. Tsagolov. Moscow, 1970.
Osipenkov, P. S. Problemy sotsialisticheskogo raspredeleniia. (Zakon raspredeleniiapo trudu i mekhanizm ego ispol’zovaniia). Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Full browser ?