diminishing returns

noun
1.
any rate of profit, production, benefits, etc., that beyond a certain point fails to increase proportionately with added investment, effort, or skill.
2.
Also called law of diminishing returns. Economics. the fact, often stated as a law or principle, that when any factor of production, as labor, is increased while other factors, as capital and land, are held constant in amount, the output per unit of the variable factor will eventually diminish.

Origin:
1805–15

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
diminishing returns
 
pl n
1.  progressively smaller rises in output resulting from the increased application of a variable input, such as labour, to a fixed quantity, as of capital or land
2.  the increase in the average cost of production that may arise beyond a certain point as a result of increasing the overall scale of production

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
Sure, more education means better employment than less education, but the law
  of diminishing returns applies.
With these and other issues on its mind, the movie sometimes loses its focus to
  the point of diminishing returns.
Once the basics are met, plus a certain amount of discretionary resources, you
  reach a point of diminishing returns.
Brain size, for instance, helps up to a point but carries diminishing returns:
  brains become energy-hungry and slow.
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