Variable capital is therefore only a particular historical form of the labor—fund which the laborer requires for maintenance of himself and his family, and which, whatever the system of social production, he himself must produce and reproduce.
The reproduction of labor power, for which women then, as now, bore heavy responsibility, has two aspects. There is first the question of food, sleep, shelter, and relaxation sufficient to return the laborer refreshed enough to be able to work the next day. There are then the longer-term needs, which attach to the next generation of workers through having, rearing, and educating children.
It is probably fair to say that on the average the resources ...