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Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity


The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity is an economic principle stating that as more input (such as labor or capital) is added to a production process, the additional output generated from that input decreases. This occurs because, at a certain point, the efficiency of combining resources declines due to factors like limited space, technology or management capacity. Consequently, each extra unit of input will contribute less to the growth of overall output.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity” is /lɔ əv dɪˈmɪnɪʃɪŋ ˈmɑrʤɪnəl prəˌdʌktɪˈvɪti/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Decreasing Additional Output: The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity states that as more units of a variable input, such as labor or capital, are added to a fixed input like land or equipment, the additional output gained from each unit will eventually decrease.
  2. Optimal Resource Allocation: This law helps firms and producers understand how to allocate their resources efficiently by finding the optimal point where the marginal cost of producing an additional unit equals its marginal revenue. This results in maximum profit.
  3. Short-run vs. Long-run: The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity mainly applies to the short-run, when factors such as labor and capital can be changed while some factors remain fixed. In the long-run, however, all factors of production are variable, and firms may find opportunities to adjust their inputs and technology to increase overall productivity.


The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity is important in business and finance because it enables firms to understand how additional inputs in the production process influence output. This concept highlights that after a certain point, employing more of one production factor (e.g., labor) while holding other factors constant (e.g., capital) results in a smaller increase in output. By recognizing this principle, firms can optimize resource allocation, maximize efficiency, and avoid overutilization or underutilization of resources in the production process. Moreover, it helps firms effectively plan their production strategies, make informed decisions regarding resource management, and forecast returns on investments, thus enhancing overall business performance and profitability.


The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity is an essential concept in economics which plays a crucial role in understanding the optimal allocation of resources in a production process. Its purpose is to help businesses, manufacturers, and economists analyze and establish the most efficient way to scale production while maximizing profits. This economic law is based on the principle that as a firm increases the quantity of a single input while holding all other inputs constant, the additional output produced from the added input will eventually experience a diminishing rate of return. Such an understanding is vital for businesses and manufacturers not only in their pursuit of profit maximization but also in maintaining a cost-efficient and resource-effective production system. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity is used by managers and business owners for efficient labor allocation and production management. By recognizing this concept, they can identify the point at which adding more of a particular input, such as labor or capital, no longer results in a proportional increase in output. This helps the business prevent resource wastage and achieve cost efficiency. Additionally, the concept is used to guide decisions concerning investment in new technologies or production methods. Innovations or production strategies that can counteract the diminishing marginal productivity effect can lead to sustained growth and increased competitiveness in the market. Therefore, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity serves as a cornerstone in modern economics and financial decision-making, facilitating a more prudent resource management approach in the business environment.


1. Agricultural Production: Consider a farmer who owns a piece of land and uses it to grow crops. Initially, the farmer uses a certain number of laborers and inputs (such as fertilizer, seeds, and machinery) to cultivate the land. As the farmer adds more laborers and inputs, crop yields increase. However, after a certain point, the additional yields from each new input will get smaller and smaller. This is due to factors like land constraints and the declining effectiveness of additional inputs. In this case, the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity is observed as increasing the number of laborers and inputs no longer results in a proportional increase in production. 2. Manufacturing Industry: Consider a production unit that manufactures electronic goods. Initially, as the unit hires more labor and installs more machines, the output increases at a significant rate. But after a while, adding more labor and machinery will result in overcrowding, reduced efficiency, and even accidents. This would limit the production gains from increasing inputs. As a result, the marginal productivity of labor and machinery will decrease, following the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity. 3. Fast Food Restaurant: A fast food restaurant has a kitchen with a limited working area, equipment, and staff. As the restaurant hires more staff to work in the kitchen, food production will initially increase rapidly, allowing the restaurant to serve more customers. However, after a specific threshold, the kitchen space becomes overcrowded and congested, leading to inefficiencies in the workflow and a longer waiting time for food to be prepared. The productivity of each additional staff member decreases, and the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity comes into play.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity?
The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity (LDMR) is an economic concept that states that as more units of a variable input (such as labor) are added to a fixed input (such as capital or land), the marginal product of the variable input will initially increase, but eventually decrease. In simpler terms, this law implies that after a certain point, adding more workers or inputs to a production process will result in smaller increases in output, and can eventually lead to reduced production per worker.
What are the main reasons behind this law?
There are several reasons behind the LDMR, including resource limitations, inefficiencies in production, limited space, and management challenges. These factors can make it difficult to maintain the same level of productivity as input increases, leading to diminishing marginal returns.
How does the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity relate to the concept of diminishing returns?
While the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity focuses on the declining marginal output of an additional unit of input, the concept of diminishing returns is broader, encompassing both the diminishing productivity and the diminishing value of the output. Both concepts are closely related and often used interchangeably.
Can Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity apply to other factors of production apart from labor?
Yes. The law can apply to other variable factors of production such as capital, technology, and land. However, the effects may vary depending on the specifics of the production process and the industry being considered.
How does the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity impact production cost?
When the law takes effect, it can lead to increased per-unit production costs, as businesses need to use more resources to produce the same output. This can affect the overall profitability and financial stability of a business.
In what industries or scenarios can the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity be observed?
The Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity can be observed in virtually any industry or production process. Examples include the assembly line in a manufacturing plant, the cultivation of crops on agricultural land, or the provision of services such as customer support.
How can businesses address the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity to improve efficiency?
Businesses can address the Law of Diminishing Marginal Productivity by regular assessment of their production process, improving technology, optimizing resource allocation, upgrading worker skills through training, implementing effective management practices, and employing techniques that increase worker motivation or enhance workflow coordination.

Related Finance Terms

  • Marginal Product
  • Production Function
  • Variable Inputs
  • Economies of Scale
  • Short-Run Production Analysis

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