This is a non-economist's question.

As a philosophy teacher ( in a french high school) , I have to study the theme of " labour" in class. I'm looking for factual data in order to assess the contemporary validity of some philosophical theories regarding the employee/ enterprise relation.

I suppose there is no single answer to the question : how much average value does 1 working hour produce?

Are there reliable statistics dealing with this subject?

Either statistics by country, or by enterprise, or by social category/profession?

Has also the profit generated by 1 working hour been studied?

Has the historical evolution of this profit through time been investigated?


That is a great question. And it depends (famous economics response to anything).
Here are some of the factors on, “how much does 1 hour of work produces”: - Persons education and training level - How many people are working on a specific task - How much capital is available to help the person perform the 1 hour of work

1 hour of work will depend on the factors of production (Capital and labor) If the person is highly educated then the person can produce more within one hour.

There are lots of reliable statistics dealing with this subject and it is produced by many different international statistical agencies under productivity statistics. Productivity statistics will usually tell you how many hours people are working within a receptive period (quarterly, annually), will include how much input is used during this time, and the output that was produced.

The level of categorical information depends on which statistics agency is producing the data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great example that produces data at the National and at the State level on hours worked, output, and productivity (https://www.bls.gov/lpc/state-productivity.htm ).

There has been lots of working papers on this topic. Try the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) website (https://www.nber.org/) and search by topic.

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One possible measure is "GDP (or productivity) per hour worked": OECD, EU28.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the most straight forward definition with lots of available data. One should probably mention that this only measures paid work. OP asked about value produced which could be interpreted a lot more general. That is, me washing the laundry at home creates some value (to me, I wouldn't do it otherwise) but does not create any GDP. $\endgroup$ – quarague Dec 20 '19 at 15:10

Evaluating political economy from the perspective of an hour of labour is notoriously a labour theory of value.

The most well developed labour theory of value is Marxian labour theory of value.

Marxian labour theories of value treat one hour of standard productive labour at the standard skill level as worth one hour of productive labour. Capital and other inputs are amortised into the results of labour. Deficient or super effective labour is worth more or less than the standard hour of labour. (all labour hours must be realised, ie: paid for. Capitalists who produce speculatively but still pay their labourers, but fail to sell their produce are idiots [Capital, Volumes II and III]).

As there is no other reference point for value in this schema of analysis, one hour of labour is worth one hour of labour, unless your labourer is slow or dumb or fast or skilled.

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