Difference Between Labor and Human Capital

Labor and human capital are two concepts that are used in economical situations along with layman situations. Both of these are very necessary for the productive flow of work and for an efficient production process.

Some people may get these concepts confused with one another but they are both fundamentally different. 

Labor vs Human Capital 

The main difference between labor and human capital is that labor refers to the actual work done by the laborers, and it is an active process that is directly involved in the production process whereas human capital refers to the people and their respective competencies, skillset, experience, etc. And it is a passive process that is indirectly involved in the production process. 

Labor vs Human Capital

Labor is the primary and active factor of production. Labor makes a vital contribution to commodity production.

Labor is defined as the exertion of mind and body conducted with the goal of obtaining anything other than the pleasure directly obtained from the task.

Labor, like a commodity, cannot be held and withdrawn from the market until a more advantageous moment if the wage offered is poor. 

Human capital is the monetary value of a worker’s experience and abilities. It is an intangible asset or attribute that is not (and cannot be) recognized on the balance sheet of a firm.

Human capital is supposed to increase production and, as a result, profitability. The greater a company’s investment in its employees, the more likely it is to be productive and successful. 

Comparison Table Between Labor and Human Capital 

Parameters of Comparison Labor Human Capital 
Definition It refers to the actual work that people do. It refers to the people and their skills and competency to perform labor. 
Active or Passive It is an active factor. It is a passive factor. 
Production Process It is directly involved in the production process. It indirectly supports the production process. 
Includes It includes physical and mental work. It includes knowledge, competency, skillset, etc. 
Types Physical and mental, Skilled and unskilled Knowledge, social, and emotional. 
Examples Physical work like carrying material, mental work like studying for a test, etc. Education, communication skills, problem-solving, health, etc. 

What is Labor? 

In economic terms, “labor” refers to the amount of work done by humans. Labor can also be defined as the ability to perform work. Labor entails both physical and mental exertion. 

The human capital that is experienced, skilled, and expert will only provide good labor. Labor efficiency and skill levels vary from person to person.

Most of the time, the working force just performs the tasks that have been delegated to them. 

Labor can be defined as the sum of all mental and physical effort expended in the production of services and things. Wages are also a component of labor. Furthermore, earnings differ from one sort of labor to the next. 

In Economics, the term labor refers to manual labor. It also includes mental work. In other words, labor involves both physical and mental labor performed for monetary compensation.  

Workers at industries, as well as the services of doctors, advocates, officers, and teachers, are all included in the definition of labor.

Any physical or mental task done for pleasure or happiness rather than for monetary gain is not considered labor. 

Furthermore, because labor is inextricably linked to the laborer and must be delivered personally, working conditions or the surroundings are critical.

Even a lesser income may be acceptable if the workplace is pleasant and the management is caring. Because labor has no bargaining power, the employer has an advantage in labor transactions, and the wage paid is less than what is owed. 

What is Human Capital? 

Human capital refers to the workforce or people who are accessible for various jobs. The work that people do is referred to as labor. 

The term “human capital” also refers to people’s knowledge, skill, and aptitude to execute labor. Formal education and training are essential human capital factors. Human capital is essential for the running of every firm.

Because the success of a corporation is dependent on human capital, all commercial firms spend on human capital in order to groom good laborers. 

The monetary value of labor talents and attributes that influence productivity, such as education, is referred to as human capital. Investing in these attributes boosts economic output. 

Intangible assets and characteristics that improve worker performance and help the economy are referred to as human capital. These traits are closely tied to the individuals who receive or possess them. 

The monetary value of labor abilities and attributes that drive productivity is referred to as human capital. These include things like education, health, and on-the-job training.

Although human capital is intangible, it is inexorably connected to labor. 

Education is a critical component of human capital since it leads to increased economic output, higher individual income, and more economic mobility for families. 

Main Differences Between Labor and Human Capital 

  1. Labor refers to the actual work done by the people, be it physical or mental. On the other hand, human capital refers to the people themselves and their expertise, skillsets, competency, knowledge, etc. That makes them capable of performing labor. 
  2. Labor is an active factor in the production process whereas human capital is a passive factor. 
  3. Labor is directly involved in the production process. However, human capital is indirectly involved in the production process. 
  4. Labor includes all aspects of work done by people, including physical and mental work. Human capital includes knowledge, competency, skillset, etc. Possessed by the people. 
  5. Labor is differentiated into two main categories, namely, physical and mental labor, and skilled and unskilled labor. On the other hand, human capital can be od various types like knowledge, social, emotional, materialistic, etc. 
  6. Some examples of labor can be physical work like carrying something or making something, mental work like studying for a test, etc. Some examples of human capital can include education, problem-solving, health, communication, etc. 
Difference Between Labor and Human Capital


For an efficient and productive production process in any industry available, both labor and human capital are necessary factors that play an important role. 

Labor is an active factor that is directly involved in the process since it involves actually doing the work. On the other hand, human capital is a passive factor that is indirectly involved. 


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EieU9lffCR4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA55&dq=difference+between+labor+and+human+capital&ots=b8LVGaPPxM&sig=7ZO5TUpcJJS5TGyESs6v3B2ps3U 
  2. https://www.nber.org/system/files/chapters/c11229/c11229.pdf 
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