The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Division of Labour

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


Division of labour has been a very important topic for economic writings from the earliest times, and was treated in great detail by major economists, including especially Adam Smith and Alfred Marshall. This article surveys the development of ‘division of labour’ from its beginnings in the writings of Greek philosophers through the centuries and up to the 21st century. It therefore also reflects on its offshoots: international division of labour, sexual division of labour and its contemporary revival as an essential adjunct to the theory of economic growth, labour productivity, inter-firm cooperation, and its modern limits in coordination and communication costs.


Agricultural productivity Aristotle Austrian capital theory Babbage, C. Beccaria, C. B. Bagehot, W. British Association Capital accumulation Capitalism Carl, E. L. Carlyle, T. Clustering Communication and coordination costs Comte, A. Concentration d’Alembert, C. Dexterity Diderot, D. Division of labour Durkheim, E. Economies of scale Engels, F. Engineering Equilibrium analysis Ferguson, A. Firm, theory of Foreign direct investment Hegel, G. W. F. Hodgskin, T. Housework Human capital Hutcheson, F. IbnKhaldun Increasing returns Industrial organization Industrial psychology Industrial revolution Inequality Inter-firm cooperation International division of labour Kaldor, N. Labour productivity Mandeville, B. Manufacturing Manufacturing division of labour Marshall, A. Marshall, M. P. McCulloch, J. R. New classical microeconomics New growth economics Nicholson, J. S. Petty, W. Plato Productivity growth Putting-out system Quesnay, F. Rae, J. (1796–1872) Robbins, L. C. Ruskin, J. Segmented labour markets Senior, N. Sexual division of labour Sidgwick, H. Social division of labour Specialization Spencer, H. Taussig, F. W. Technical change Torrens, R. Tucker, J. Turgot, A. R. J. Ure, A. Verdoorn’s Law Women’s work Xenophon Young, A. A. 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.