Eli5: Division of Labour

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Eli5: Division of Labour

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Suppose you live in a tribal village. There are two tasks: picking fruit and sewing clothes.

If you and your neighbor both do both, you don’t develop as much expertise in either. The time you spend sewing is time you spend not becoming even better at picking fruit and vice-versa. If, on the other hand, you agree to pick fruit and your neighbor to sew clothes, you can each get better at it. That results in more total fruit being picked and more total clothes sewn, increasing the total resources available. That – each of you doing separate things at which you develop expertise – is division of labor.

It’s more efficient for each person to specialize in a task rather than everybody do everything themself. Rather than everybody grow/hunt their own food, cook it, sew and wash clothes, build their house people take on jobs like farmer and seamstress and carpenter and sell their services to others. By specializing on a task and being able to focus on that task all day rather than switching around, more overall output is generated and everybody benefits from the additional productivity.