Factors affecting mobility of labour

Labour is usually firmly attached to a particular placeby a strong social background. Such attachments are in the form of friends, cultural groups, religion etc. A new place of work indicates a change in social environment, and readjustments are not always easy, it is influenced by

1] Means and cost of transport – The mobility between regions may be reduced by high cost of transport. However, the development of means of transport and communication promotes the geographical mobility of labour.

Well developed means of transport and communications encourage mobility labour. The worker knows that in case of emergency at home, he can easily communicate with his family  or travel back within the country or from abroad if necessary

2] High cost of settlement – The cost of living in a new region may be so high as to nullify the benefit of high wages in a new region. There may also be a housing shortage in a new place. Hence the movement between regions may be low.

3] Outlook or Urge – Language, climate, customs, caste, culture and religion etc – People from one region may not easily go to another region because of differences in language, climate, castes, customs, culture, religion etc.

However the outlook or urge of workers to rise in life determines their mobility. If they are optimist and broad minded, they will move to other jobs and places. Differences in language, habits, religion, caste, etc. will not be hindrances in their mobility.

4] Ignorance – Many individuals may not move anywhere because of ignorance of the availability of jobs in new regions.

5] Better income –workers are willing to move to increase their income and standard of living. This also depends upon the place e.g. In Mumbai incomes may be high.

6] Prospects of employment – Further there can be no gurantee that they would get jobs immediately after their arrival in a new region. So they may not move.

7] Attachment to one’s family and neighbourhood – Many individuals may hesitate to go to new places on account of their attachment to their home, family, neighbourhood food habits etc.

More over Parents of children schooling at a particular place may not move elsewhere for fear of disrupting their education.

8] Age – The individuals who have been working in their present jobs for a long time or who are older may not be willing to move elsewhere thus mobility will be low. Younger workers easily move elsewhere therefore mobility will be high.

9] Political factors – Political conditions in different parts of the country may promote or obstruct welfare.

The mobility of labour depends to a large extent on law and order in the country. If the life and property of the people are not safe, they will not move from their present places and occupations to others.

10] Immigration laws – Mobility between countries may be partially or fully restricted by their respective governments by means of immigration laws.

Factors affecting occupational mobility of labour

1] Kinds of labour – The highly skilled, technical and specialised labour which has specialized at certain tasks, is relatively less mobile because it may not easily get an alternative employment. The unskilled or semi-skilled labour is relatively more mobile, for it can be easily employed in alternative unskilled jobs.

It is also difficult for the sons and daughters of the poor to rise up in the better paid jobs or occupations because of high cost of higher education.

2] Attitude of workers – The workers who have put in some years of service in a particular occupation may not change it in spite of better opportunities in other occupations.

3] Use of machinery – The mobility of labour would be greater in those industries where there is a high degree of mechanisation, for new recruits could be easily trained to handle new machines.

In industries where most of the labour required is manual, the occupational mobility of labour will be low, for it will be difficult for labourers to get alternative jobs.

4] Trade unions and Professional associations – Sometimes trade unions may prevent the employers from employing the workers who are not the members of the unions. At the same time, they may restrict the entry of new members to their unions by various means such as high entry fee by insisting on apprenticeship or by fixing high wages or salaries,  do not accept graduates from other universities.etc.

5] Non-competing groups – In every society, there are non-competing groups such as lawyers, doctors, engineers etc, each having a different type of training and education. The labour between these groups is immobile eg a lawyer cannot practice as a doctor.

6] Sex – There are certain jobs such as nursing which are purely earmarked for women or when there is delicacy in the work, female labour is required.

Other jobs such as truck driving are reserved for males only or if  manual work is required male labour is demanded etc.

Hence in such occupations, there is no free mobility between male and female workers.

7] Age – The mobility in case of young people is greater than old.

8] Ignorance – The workers in one occupation may not be of the opportunities in other occupations.

9] Social Set-up:The social background in many communities is an important influence on the social position of a person. The mobility of labour also depends upon the social set-up. A society dominated by caste system and joint family system lacks in mobility of labour. But where the joint family and caste system do not exist or have disintegrated the mobility of labour increases.

Social barriers continue to retain inequality of opportunity; therefore the children of rich and educated have a better opportunity of moving up in the social hierarchy.

10] High expenses on education and training prevent a large number of people from acquiring certain skills which are monopolized by only a few.

11] The most important factor restricting occupational mobility of labour is the growing specialisation and division of labour in production which confines labour skills to increasingly narrow occupation or tasks and make the labour force more specific

12] A labourer may not necessarily have the ability and skills to use the modern machines like computers, also may not be willing to move because of lack of education and training, lack of confidence, cannot be bothered

Mobility of labour also depends on

1] Education and Training:

The mobility of labour depends on the extent to which labour is educated and trained. The more a person is educated and skilled, the greater are his chances of moving from one occupation or place to another. Geographical and vertical mobility depend on education and training.

2] Agricultural Developments:

With agricultural development, labour moves from high population to low population areas during busy seasons.


The mobility of labour is determined by industrial development. Workers move from different occupations and places to work in factories. Industrialisation also leads to urbanisation and workers move from rural and semi-urban areas to industrial centres and big cities.

3] Trade:

The development of business and trade leads to the spread of their offices and institutions related to them in different parts of the country. As a result, workers move from one place and occupation to another to work in trade and business offices, banks, insurance companies, etc.

4] Advertisement:

Advertisements relating to jobs in newspapers also determine the mobility of labour. Accordingly, workers move between places and occupations.

5] State Help:

When the state starts industrial centres, and estates, employment exchanges, dams, public works, etc., they encourage mobility of labour.

Posted in General Economics