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- An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
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Also, seriously, brush up on how much guineas and shillings are worth otherwise a lot of the analogies will be lost. I got very confused when he starts comparing how many guineas are paid per bushel of wheat compared to how many florins per hogs head of ale. Quite long book, I listened for a months, but it was worth it.
I'm thinking of this as an 'important' book, but which I hope never to read or hear read again. It has it all, and I mean all plus some! It reads like all the epic business, finances, economics, marketing, sociology and politics books start and end here, What a brain! Excellent narrator, however, for this book, my choice would have been one "more with the times" of the literary oeuvre and I do mean the voice and style.
Best thirty six hours divided three! Alirio da Silva. The content of the book is certainly remarkable but it is excessively long and detailed in some chapters. The narrator speaks clearly but without any engagement with the text. He is so monotone that you can feel the narrator's boredom while listening to him. Overall, the narration is not enjoyable. I would definitely not recommend this audiobook to anyone despite its occasionally highly interesting contents.
I would definitely advised to anybody. This book is the Hallmark of clear thinking and concise writing. An exercise in logic, moral thought and basic economics. The narrator was very much monotone and was not engaging. So many concepts that underpin capitalist ideology, like the invisible hand, first advanced by Smith here.
Indispensable reading. Narration could have been better though, put me to sleep sometimes. Every ambitious person in their 20s should read this book. It bumps you up at least 3 notches in knowledge and analytical prowess. If you want a book which can give you a broad strokes model for understanding how life, money, economics, war, politics, law and even religion works, I would suggest you seriously consider this one. Also contrary to popular opinion this is not a political book by any means. It is descriptive. Smith merely attempts to describe, quite literally, the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
People like to try to say that this was a political tract but it's nothing more than a brass tacks economics and history lesson. It's not libertarian, contrary to what modern day libertarians would have you believe and if they actually read it, Libertarians would realize that Smith wasn't one of their ideologues; though his examination usually leans in the direction of lending support to a libertarian model of the world. Your audiobook is waiting….
The Wealth of Nations. By: Adam Smith. Narrated by: Gildart Jackson. Length: 36 hrs and 43 mins. Categories: Classics , European Literature. People who bought this also bought Publisher's Summary The foundation for all modern economic thought and political economy, The Wealth of Nations is the magnum opus of Scottish economist Adam Smith, who introduces the world to the very idea of economics and capitalism in the modern sense of the words. Smith details his argument in five books: Book I. Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth Taken together, these books form a giant leap forward in the field of economics.
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Public Domain P Tantor. What members say Average Customer Ratings Overall. Amazon Reviews. Sort by:. Most Helpful Most Recent. Amazingly accessible Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? The Way Your World Works 36 of 36 people found this review helpful. Loved the Narrator The writings herein is brought forth with great workmanship of speech. Very interesting What made the experience of listening to The Wealth of Nations the most enjoyable?
CJA Bob Simply a classic. Much better audio this time. Worth the Effort The most misused and misquoted author I think I have ever read. Ha2tim Long but worth it What did you love best about The Wealth of Nations? Of the extraordinary Restraints: Chapter 3's long title is "Of the extraordinary Restraints upon the Importation of Goods of almost all Kinds, from those Countries with which the Balance is supposed to be Disadvantageous". Of Drawbacks: Merchants and manufacturers are not contented with the monopoly of the home market, but desire likewise the most extensive foreign sale for their goods.
Their country has no jurisdiction in foreign nations, and therefore can seldom procure them any monopoly there. They are generally obliged, therefore, to content themselves with petitioning for certain encouragements to exportation. Of these encouragements what are called Drawbacks seem to be the most reasonable. To allow the merchant to draw back upon exportation, either the whole or a part of whatever excise or inland duty is imposed upon domestic industry, can never occasion the exportation of a greater quantity of goods than what would have been exported had no duty been imposed.
Such encouragements do not tend to turn towards any particular employment a greater share of the capital of the country than what would go to that employment of its own accord, but only to hinder the duty from driving away any part of that shares to other employments. Of Bounties: Bounties upon exportation are, in Great Britain, frequently petitioned for, and sometimes granted to the produce of particular branches of domestic industry.
By means of them our merchants and manufacturers, it is pretended, will be enabled to sell their goods as cheap, or cheaper than their rivals in the foreign market. A greater quantity, it is said, will thus be exported, and the balance of trade consequently turned more in favour of our own country. We cannot give our workmen a monopoly in the foreign as we have done in the home market. We cannot force foreigners to buy their goods as we have done our own countrymen. The next best expedient, it has been thought, therefore, is to pay them for buying. It is in this manner that the mercantile system proposes to enrich the whole country, and to put money into all our pockets by means of the balance of trade.
Conclusion of the Mercantile System: Smith's argument about the international political economy opposed the idea of Mercantilism. While the Mercantile System encouraged each country to hoard gold, while trying to grasp hegemony, Smith argued that free trade eventually makes all actors better off. This argument is the modern 'Free Trade' argument. Smith postulated four "maxims" of taxation: proportionality, transparency, convenience, and efficiency.
Some economists interpret Smith's opposition to taxes on transfers of money, such as the Stamp Act , as opposition to capital gains taxes, which did not exist in the 18th century. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess.
A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion" Smith believed that an even "more proper" source of progressive taxation than property taxes was ground rent.
Smith wrote that "nothing [could] be more reasonable" than a land value tax. Of the Expenses of the Sovereign or Commonwealth: Smith uses this chapter to comment on the concept of taxation and expenditure by the state. On taxation Smith wrote,. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.
In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation. Smith advocates a tax naturally attached to the "abilities" and habits of each echelon of society. For the lower echelon, Smith recognised the intellectually erosive effect that the otherwise beneficial division of labour can have on workers, what Marx, though he mainly opposes Smith, later named "alienation,"; therefore, Smith warns of the consequence of government failing to fulfill its proper role, which is to preserve against the innate tendency of human society to fall apart.
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.
Under Smith's model, government involvement in any area other than those stated above negatively impacts economic growth. This is because economic growth is determined by the needs of a free market and the entrepreneurial nature of private persons. A shortage of a product makes its price rise, and so stimulates producers to produce more and attracts new people to that line of production.
An excess supply of a product more of the product than people are willing to buy drives prices down, and producers refocus energy and money to other areas where there is a need. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. He also introduced the distinction between a direct tax , and by implication an indirect tax although he did not use the word "indirect" :. It is thus that a tax upon the necessaries of life operates exactly in the same manner as a direct tax upon the wages of labour.
Constitution, and James Madison , who wrote much of the Constitution, is known to have read Smith's book. They are unwilling for fear of offending the people, who, by so great and so sudden an increase of taxes, would soon be disgusted with the war [ The return of peace, indeed, seldom relieves them from the greater part of the taxes imposed during the war. These are mortgaged for the interest of the debt contracted in order to carry it on.
Smith then goes on to say that even if money was set aside from future revenues to pay for the debts of war, it seldom actually gets used to pay down the debt. Politicians are inclined to spend the money on some other scheme that will win the favour of their constituents. Hence, interest payments rise and war debts continue to grow larger, well beyond the end of the war. Summing up, if governments can borrow without check, then they are more likely to wage war without check, and the costs of the war spending will burden future generations, since war debts are almost never repaid by the generations that incurred them.
The first edition of the book sold out in six months. Strahan also wrote: "What you say of Mr. Gibbon's and Dr. Smith's book is exactly just. The former is the most popular work; but the sale of the latter, though not near so rapid, has been more than I could have expected from a work that requires much thought and reflection qualities that do not abound among modern readers to peruse to any purpose.
Adam Smith has enriched the public!
An extensive science in a single book, and the most profound ideas expressed in the most perspicuous language". Burke possessed talents similar to the author 'On the Wealth of Nations,' he would have comprehended all the parts which enter into, and, by assemblage, form a constitution. She is our best customer; and by the gentle and peaceable stream of commerce, the treasures of the new world flow with greater certainty into English reservoirs, than it could do by the most successful warfare.
They come in this way to support our manufactures, to encourage industry, to feed our poor, to pay taxes, to reward ingenuity, to diffuse riches among all classes of people. But for the full understanding of this beneficial circulation of wealth, we must refer to Dr. Adam Smith's incomparable Treatise on the Wealth of Nations. In , a correspondent writing under the pseudonym of Publicola included at the head of his letter Smith's line that "Exclusive Companies are nuisances in every respect" and called him "that learned writer".
Smith's biographer John Rae contends that The Wealth of Nations shaped government policy soon after it was published. In , in the first budget after the book was published, Prime Minister Lord North got the idea for two new taxes from the book: one on man-servants and the other on property sold at auction. The budget of introduced the inhabited house duty and the malt tax, both recommended by Smith.
In , Smith was consulted by politicians Henry Dundas and Lord Carlisle on the subject of giving Ireland free trade. There was a maxim laid down in an excellent book upon the Wealth of Nations which had been ridiculed for its simplicity, but which was indisputable as to its truth. In that book it was stated that the only way to become rich was to manage matters so as to make one's income exceed one's expenses.
This maxim applied equally to an individual and to a nation. The proper line of conduct therefore was by a well-directed economy to retrench every current expense, and to make as large a saving during the peace as possible. However Fox once told Charles Butler sometime after that he had never read the book and that "There is something in all these subjects which passes my comprehension; something so wide that I could never embrace them myself nor find any one who did.
In the same year George Dempster MP referenced it in the debate on the proposal to farm the post-horse duties and in by a Mr. Hussy on the Wool Exportation Bill. The prime minister, William Pitt , praised Smith in the House of Commons on 17 February "…an author of our own times now unfortunately no more I mean the author of a celebrated treatise on the Wealth of Nations , whose extensive knowledge of detail, and depth of philosophical research will, I believe, furnish the best solution to every question connected with the history of commerce, or with the systems of political economy.
The book was not mentioned in the House of Lords until a debate in between Lord Lansdowne and Lord Loughborough about revolutionary principles in France. During a debate on the price of corn in Lord Warwick said:. There was hardly any kind of property on which the law did not impose some restraints and regulations with regard to the sale of them, except that of provisions.
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This was probably done on the principles laid down by a celebrated and able writer, Doctor Adam Smith, who had maintained that every thing ought to be left to its own level. He knew something of that Gentleman, whose heart he knew was as sound as his head; and he was sure that had he lived to this day and beheld the novel state of wretchedness to which the country was now reduced He would now have abundant opportunities of observing that all those artificial means of enhancing the price of provisions, which he had considered as no way mischievous, were practised at this time to a most alarming extent.
He would see the Farmer keeping up his produce while the poor were labouring under all the miseries of want, and he would see Forestallers, Regraters, and all kinds of Middle-men making large profits upon it. Lord Grenville replied:. The Radical MP Richard Cobden studied The Wealth of Nations as a young man; his copy is still in the library of his home at Dunford House and there are lively marginal notes on the places where Smith condemns British colonial policy.
There are none on the passage about the invisible hand. In , Cobden quoted Smith's protest against the "plain violation of the most sacred property" of every man derived from his labour. Cobden believed it to be morally wrong to lend money to be spent on war. In , when The Times claimed political economists were against Cobden on this, Cobden wrote: "I can quote Adam Smith whose authority is without appeal now in intellectual circles, it gives one the basis of science upon which to raise appeals to the moral feelings.
Cobden said that if Bright had been as plain-speaking as Smith, "how he would have been branded as an incendiary and Socialist". You will find just the same authority in Adam Smith for the one as for the other. After the British took control over occupied French North America in the Seven Years' War, Charles Townshend suggested that the American colonists provide help to pay for the war debt by paying an additional tax on tea. During this time, Adam Smith was working for Townshend and developed a relationship with Benjamin Franklin, who played a vital role in the United States' independence three months after Smith's The Wealth of Nations book was released.
James Madison , in a speech given in Congress on 2 February , cited The Wealth of Nations in opposing a national bank: "The principal disadvantages consisted in, 1st. It was admitted by the most enlightened patrons of banks, particularly by Smith on the Wealth of Nations. With 36, citations, it is the second most cited book in the social sciences published before , behind Karl Marx 's Das Kapital. George Stigler attributes to Smith "the most important substantive proposition in all of economics" and foundation of resource-allocation theory.
It is that, under competition, owners of resources labour, land, and capital will use them most profitably, resulting in an equal rate of return in equilibrium for all uses adjusted for apparent differences arising from such factors as training, trust, hardship, and unemployment. Navigation, or the carriage of goods foreign or domestic, should be encouraged, as a gainful branch of business surpassing often all the profit made by the merchant. This too is a nursery of fit hands for defence at sea. It is plain there is no necessary vice in the consuming of the finest products or the wearing of the dearest manufactures by persons whose fortunes can allow it consistently with the duties of life.
And what if men grew generally more frugal and abstemious in such things? Unless therefore a nation can be found where all men are already provided with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life abundantly, men may, without any luxury, make the very greatest consumption by plentiful provision for their children, by generosity and liberality to kinsmen and indigent men of worth, and by compassion to the distresses of the poor.
But above all, a just proportion to the wealth of people should be observed in whatever is raised from them, otherways than by duties upon foreign products and manufactures, for such duties are often necessary to encourage industry at home, though there were no public expenses. It is quite clear from all this that Smith was largely influenced by the traditions of his chair in selecting his economic subjects.
Hutcheson was an inspiring teacher. His colleague, Leechman, says:—. Twenty years after attending his lectures, Adam Smith criticised Hutcheson expressly on the ground that he thought too little of self-love. In the chapter of the Theory of Moral Sentiments on the systems of philosophy which make virtue consist in benevolence, he says that Hutcheson believed that it was benevolence only which could stamp upon any action the character of virtue: the most benevolent action was that which aimed at the good of the largest number of people, and self-love was a principle which could never be virtuous, though it was innocent when it had no other effect than to make the individual take care of his own happiness.
But it seems probable—we cannot safely say more—that he was assisted by his study of Mandeville, a writer who has had little justice done him in histories of economics, though McCulloch gives a useful hint on the subject in his Literature of Political Economy. Every thing according to him, is luxury which exceeds what is absolutely necessary for the support of human nature, so that there is vice even in the use of a clean shirt or of a convenient habitation.
But, Smith thinks, he has fallen into the great fallacy of representing every passion as wholly vicious if it is so in any degree and direction:—. If the love of magnificence, a taste for the elegant arts and improvements of human life, for whatever is agreeable in dress, furniture, or equipage, for architecture, statuary, painting and music, is to be regarded as luxury, sensuality and ostentation, even in those whose situation allows, without any inconveniency, the indulgence of those passions, it is certain that luxury, sensuality and ostentation are public benefits: since, without the qualities upon which he thinks proper to bestow such opprobrious names, the arts of refinement could never find encouragement and must languish for want of employment.
Mandeville, which once made so much noise in the world. In he added further a second part, nearly as large as the first, consisting of a dialogue on the subject. But the bees grumbled till Jove in anger swore he would rid the hive of fraud. The hive became virtuous, frugal and honest, and trade was forthwith ruined by the cessation of expenditure. In a letter to the London Journal of 10th August, , which he reprinted in the edition of , Mandeville defended this passage vigorously against a hostile critic.
If, he said, he had been writing to be understood by the meanest capacities, he would have explained that every want was an evil:—.
Smith put the doggerel into prose, and added something from the Hutchesonian love of liberty when he propounded what is really the text of the polemical portion of the Wealth of Nations: —. Experience shows that a general belief in the beneficence of the economic working of self-interest is not always sufficient to make even a person of more than average intelligence a free-trader.
It is, too, perhaps, not a mere coincidence that while both Hume in the Discourses in and Smith in his lectures ten years later rejected altogether the aim of securing a favourable balance of trade, Hume still clearly believed in the utility of protection for home industries, and Smith is at any rate reported to have made a considerable concession in its favour. Perhaps it has been carried too far already. In the course of the Wealth of Nations Smith actually quotes by their own name or that of their authors almost one hundred books.
An attentive study of the notes to the present edition will convince the reader that though a few of these are quoted at second hand the number actually used was far greater. Its composition was spread over at least the twenty-seven years from to During that period economic ideas crossed and recrossed the Channel many times, and it is as useless as it is invidious to dispute about the relative shares of Great Edition: current; Page: [ xlviii ] Britain and France in the progress effected. To go further and attempt to apportion the merit between different authors is like standing on some beach and discussing whether this or that particular wave had most to do with the rising tide.
THE annual 1 labour of every nation is the fund which originally The produce of annual labour supplies annual consumption, supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life 2 which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations. According therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it, better or worse according to the proportion of produce to people, bears a greater or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to consume it, the nation will be better or worse supplied with all the necessaries and conveniencies for which it has occasion.
But this proportion must in every nation be regulated by two which proportion is regulated by the skill, etc. The abundance or scantiness of this supply too seems to depend more upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter. Among the savage nations of hunters and fishers, every individual who is able to work, is more or less employed in useful labour, and endeavours to provide, as well as he can, the necessaries and conveniencies of life, for himself, or 1 such of his family or tribe as are either too old, or too young, or too infirm to go a hunting and fishing.
Such nations, however, are so miserably poor, that from mere want, they are frequently reduced, or, at least, think themselves reduced, to the necessity sometimes of directly destroying, and sometimes of abandoning their infants, their old people, and those afflicted with lingering diseases, to perish with hunger, or to be devoured by wild beasts.
Among civilized and thriving nations, on the contrary, though a great number of people do not labour at all, many of whom consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniencies of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire. The causes of improvement and natural distribution are the subject of Book I.
The causes 2 of this improvement, in the productive powers of labour, and the order, according to which its produce is naturally distributed 3 among the different ranks and conditions of men in the society, make the subject of the First Book of this Inquiry. Capital stock, which regulates the proportion of useful labourers, is treated of in Book II. Whatever be the actual state of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which labour is applied in any nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must depend, during the continuance of that state, upon the proportion between the number of those who are annually employed in useful labour, and that of those who are not so employed.
The number of useful and productive 4 labourers, it will hereafter appear, is every where in proportion to the quantity of capital stock which is employed in setting them to work, and to the particular way in which it is so employed. The Second Book, therefore, Edition: current; Page: [ 3 ] treats of the nature of capital stock, of the manner in which it is gradually accumulated, and of the different quantities of labour which it puts into motion, according to the different ways in which it is employed.
Nations tolerably well advanced as to skill, dexterity, and judgment, The circumstances which led Europe to encourage the industry of the towns and discourage agriculture are dealt with in Book III.
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
The policy of some nations has given extraordinary encouragement to the industry of the country; that of others to the industry of towns. Scarce any nation has dealt equally and impartially with every sort of industry. Since the downfal of the Roman empire, the policy of Europe has been more favourable to arts, manufactures, and commerce, the industry of towns; than to agriculture, the industry of the country.
The circumstances which seem to have introduced and established this policy are explained in the Third Book. Though those different plans were, perhaps, first introduced by the The theories to which different policies have given rise are explained in Book IV.
Those theories have had a considerable influence, not only upon the opinions of men of learning, but upon the public conduct of princes and sovereign states. I have endeavoured, in the Fourth Book, to explain, as fully and distinctly as I can, those different theories, and the principal effects which they have produced in different ages and nations. To explain 2 in what has consisted the revenue of the great body The expenditure, revenue and debts of the sovereign are treated of in Book V. The Fifth and last Book treats of the revenue of the sovereign, or commonwealth.
In this book I have endeavoured to show; first, what are the necessary expences of the sovereign, or commonwealth; which of those expences ought to be defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society; and which of them, by that of some particular part only, or of some particular members of it: 5 secondly, what are the different methods Edition: current; Page: [ 4 ] in which the whole society may be made to contribute towards defraying the expences incumbent on the whole society, and what are the principal advantages and inconveniencies of each of those methods: and, thirdly and lastly, what are the reasons and causes which have induced almost all modern governments to mortgage some part of this revenue, or to contract debts, and what have been the effects of those debts upon the real wealth, the annual produce of the land and labour of the society.
THE greatest improvement 2 in the productive powers of labour, Division of labour is the great cause of its increased powers, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour. The effects of the division of labour, in the general business of as may be better understood from a particular example, society, will be more easily understood, by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures.
It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very trifling ones; not perhaps that it Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] really is carried further in them than in others of more importance: but in those trifling manufactures which are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in every different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator.
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In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen, that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures, 1 therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of a more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed.
To take an example, therefore, 2 from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade , 3 nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion , could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty.
But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.
But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day; that is, certainly, not the two hundred and fortieth, perhaps not the four thousand eight hundredth part of what they are at present capable of performing, in consequence of a proper division and combination of their different operations.
In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of The effect is similar in all trades and also in the division of employments. The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour.
The separation of different trades and employments from one another, seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage. This separation too is generally carried furthest in those countries which enjoy the highest degree of industry and improvement; what is the work of one man in a rude state of society, being generally that of several in an improved one.
In every improved society, the farmer is generally nothing but a farmer; the manufacturer, nothing but a manufacturer. The labour too which is necessary to produce any one complete manufacture, is almost always divided among a great number of hands. How many different trades are employed in each branch of the linen and woollen manufactures, from the growers of the flax and the wool, to the bleachers and smoothers of the linen, or to the dyers and dressers of the cloth!
The nature of agriculture, indeed, does not admit of so many subdivisions of labour, nor of so complete a separation of one business from another, as manufactures. Edition: current; Page: [ 8 ] It is impossible to separate so entirely, the business of the grazier from that of the corn-farmer, as the trade of the carpenter is commonly separated from that of the smith. The spinner is almost always a distinct person from the weaver; but the ploughman, the harrower, the sower of the seed, and the reaper of the corn, are often the same.
The occasions for those different sorts of labour returning with the different seasons of the year, it is impossible that one man should be constantly employed in any one of them. This impossibility of making so complete and entire a separation of all the different branches of labour employed in agriculture, is perhaps the reason why the improvement of the productive powers of labour in this art, does not always keep pace with their improvement in manufactures. The most opulent nations, indeed, generally excel all their neighbours in agriculture as well as in manufactures; but they are commonly more distinguished by their superiority in the latter than in the former.
Their lands are in general better cultivated, and having more labour and expence bestowed upon them, produce more in proportion to the extent and natural fertility of the ground. But this 1 superiority of produce is seldom much more than in proportion to the superiority of labour and expence. In agriculture, the labour of the rich country is not always much more productive than that of the poor; or, at least, it is never so much more productive, as it commonly is in manufactures.
The corn of the rich country, therefore, will not always, in the same degree of goodness, come cheaper to market than that of the poor. The corn of Poland, in the same degree of goodness, is as cheap as that of France, notwithstanding the superior opulence and improvement of the latter country. The corn of France is, in the corn provinces, fully as good, and in most years nearly about the same price with the corn of England, though, in opulence and improvement, France is perhaps inferior to England. The corn-lands of England, however, are better cultivated than those of France, and the corn-lands 2 of France are said to be much better cultivated than those of Poland.
But though the poor country, notwithstanding the inferiority of its cultivation, can, in some measure, rival the rich in the cheapness and goodness of its corn, it can pretend to no such competition in its manufactures; at least if those manufactures suit the soil, climate, and situation of the rich country. The silks of France are better and cheaper than those of England, because the silk manufacture, at least under the present high duties upon the importation of raw silk, Edition: current; Page: [ 9 ] does not so well suit the climate of England as that of France. This great increase of the quantity of work, which, in consequence The advantage is due to three circumstances, of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, 3 is owing to three different circumstances; first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and lastly, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many.
A common smith, who, though accustomed to handle the hammer, has never been used to make nails, if upon some particular occasion he is obliged to attempt it, will scarce, I am assured, be able to make above two or three hundred nails in a day, and those too very bad ones. I have seen several boys under twenty years of age who had never exercised any other trade but that of making nails, Edition: current; Page: [ 10 ] and who, when they exerted themselves, could make, each of them, upwards of two thousand three hundred nails in a day.
The same person blows the bellows, stirs or mends the fire as there is occasion, heats the iron, and forges every part of the nail: In forging the head too he is obliged to change his tools. The different operations into which the making of a pin, or of a metal button, 2 is subdivided, are all of them much more simple, and the dexterity of the person, of whose life it has been the sole business to perform them, is usually much greater. The rapidity with which some of the operations of those manufactures are performed, exceeds what the human hand could, by those who had never seen them, be supposed capable of acquiring.
It is impossible to pass very quickly from one kind of work to another, that is carried on in a different place, and with quite different tools. A country weaver, 3 who cultivates a small farm, must lose a good deal of time in passing from his loom to the field, and from the field to his loom. When the two trades can be carried on in the same workhouse, the loss of time is no doubt much less.
It is even in this case, however, very considerable. A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another. When he first begins the new work he is seldom very keen and hearty; his mind, as they say, does not go to it, and for some time he rather trifles than applies to good purpose. The habit of sauntering and of indolent careless application, which is naturally, or rather necessarily acquired by every country workman who is obliged to change his work and his tools every half hour, and to apply his hand in twenty different ways almost every day of his life; renders him almost always slothful and lazy, and incapable of any vigorous application even on the most pressing occasions.
Independent, therefore, of his deficiency in point of dexterity, this cause alone must always reduce considerably the quantity of work which he is capable of performing. Edition: current; Page: [ 11 ] It is unnecessary to give any example. Men are much more likely to discover easier and readier methods of attaining any object, when the whole attention of their minds is directed towards that single object, than when it is dissipated among a great variety of things.
It is naturally to be expected, therefore, that some one or other of those who are employed in each particular branch of labour should soon find out easier and readier methods of performing their own particular work, wherever the nature of it admits of such improvement. A great part of the machines made use of 3 in those manufactures in which labour is most subdivided, were originally the inventions of common workmen, who, being each of them employed in some very simple operation, naturally turned their thoughts towards finding out easier and readier methods of performing it. Whoever has been much accustomed to visit such manufactures, must frequently have been shewn very pretty machines, which were the inventions of such 4 workmen, in order to facilitate and quicken their own particular part of the work.
In the first fire-engines, 5 a boy was constantly employed to open and shut alternately the communication between the boiler and the cylinder, according as the piston either ascended or descended. One of those boys, who loved to play with his companions, observed that, by tying a string from the handle of the valve which opened this communication to another part of the machine, the valve would open and shut without his assistance, and leave him at liberty to divert himself with his play-fellows. One of the greatest improvements that has been made upon this machine, since it was first invented, was in this manner the discovery of a boy who wanted to save his own labour.
All the improvements in machinery, however, have by no means been the inventions of those who had occasion to use the machines. Many improvements have been made by the ingenuity of the makers of the machines, when to make them became the business of a peculiar trade; and some by that of those who are called philosophers or men of speculation, whose trade it is not to do any thing, but to observe every thing; and who, upon that account, are often capable of combining together the powers of the most distant and dissimilar objects.
Like every other employment too, it is subdivided into a great number of different branches, each of which affords occupation to a peculiar tribe or class of philosophers; and this subdivision of employment in philosophy, as well as in every other business, improves dexterity, and saves time. Each individual becomes more expert in his own peculiar branch, more work is done upon the whole, and the quantity of science is considerably increased by it.
Hence the universal opulence of a well-governed society, It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people. Every workman has a great quantity of his own work to dispose of beyond what he himself has occasion for; and every other workman being exactly in the same situation, he is enabled to exchange a great quantity of his own goods for a great quantity, or, what comes to the same thing, for the price of a Edition: current; Page: [ 13 ] great quantity of theirs.
He supplies them abundantly with what they have occasion for, and they accommodate him as amply with what he has occasion for, and a general plenty diffuses itself through all the different ranks of the society. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production.
How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen! To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool.
The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brick-maker, the brick-layer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them.
Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.
THIS division of labour, from which so many advantages are The division of labour arises from a propensity in human nature to exchange. Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human This propensity is found in man alone. It is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals, which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. Two greyhounds, in running down the same hare, have sometimes the appearance of acting in some sort of concert.
Each turns her towards his companion, or endeavours to intercept her when his companion turns her towards himself. This, however, is not the effect of any contract, but of the accidental concurrence of their passions in the same object at that particular time. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog. When an animal wants to obtain something either of a man or of another animal, it has no other means of persuasion but to gain the favour of those whose service it requires.
A puppy fawns upon its Edition: current; Page: [ 16 ] dam, and a spaniel endeavours by a thousand attractions to engage the attention of its master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will.
He has not time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilized society he stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons. In almost every other race of animals each individual, when it is grown up to maturity, is entirely 1 independent, and in its natural state has occasion for the assistance of no other living creature.
But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this: Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of.
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chuses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend upon it entirely. The charity of well-disposed people, indeed, supplies him with the whole fund of his subsistence.
But though this principle ultimately provides him with all the necessaries of life which he has occasion for, it neither does nor can provide him with them as he has occasion for them. The greater part of his occasional wants are supplied in the same manner as those of other people, by treaty, by barter, and by purchase. With the money which one man gives him he purchases food. The old cloaths which another bestows upon him he exchanges for other old cloaths which suit him better, or for lodging, or for food, or for money, with which he can buy either food, cloaths, or lodging, as he has occasion.
As it is by treaty, by barter, and by purchase, that we obtain from It is encouraged by self-interest and leads to division of labour, one another the greater part of those mutual good offices which we stand in need of, so it is this same trucking disposition which originally gives occasion to the division of labour. In a tribe of hunters or shepherds a particular person makes bows and arrows, for example, with more readiness and dexterity than any other. He frequently exchanges them for cattle or for venison with his companions; and he finds at last that he can in this manner get more cattle and venison, than if he himself went to the field to catch them.
From a regard to his own interest, therefore, the making of bows and arrows grows to be his chief business, and he becomes a sort of armourer. Another excels in making the frames and covers of their little huts or moveable houses. He is accustomed to be of use in this way to his neighbours, who reward him in the same manner with cattle and with venison, till at last he finds it his interest to dedicate himself entirely to this employment, and to become a sort of house-carpenter.
In the same manner a third becomes a smith or a brazier; a fourth a tanner or dresser of hides or skins, the principal part of the clothing of savages. The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much thus giving rise to differences of talent more important than the natural differences. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were, perhaps, 3 very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference.
About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in very different occupations. The difference of talents Edition: current; Page: [ 18 ] comes then to be taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance.
But without the disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, every man must have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life which he wanted. All must have had the same duties to perform, and the same work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment as could alone give occasion to any great difference of talents. As it is this disposition which forms that difference of talents, so remarkable among men of different professions, so it is this same disposition which renders that difference useful.
Many tribes of animals acknowledged to be all of the same species, derive from nature a much more remarkable distinction of genius, than what, antecedent to custom and education, appears to take place among men. Those different tribes of animals, however, though all of the same species, are of scarce any use to one another. The effects of those different geniuses and talents, for want of the power or disposition to barter and exchange, cannot be brought into a common stock, and do not in the least contribute to the better accommodation and conveniency of the species.
Each animal is still obliged to support and defend itself, separately and independently, and derives no sort of advantage from that variety of talents with which nature has distinguished its fellows. AS it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division Division of labour is limited by the extent of the power of exchanging.
There are some sorts of industry, even of the lowest kind, which can Various trades cannot be carried on except in towns. A porter, for example, can find employment and subsistence in no other place. A village is by much too narrow a sphere for him; even an ordinary market town is scarce large enough to afford him constant occupation. In the lone houses and very small villages which are scattered about in so desert a country as the Highlands of Scotland, every farmer must be butcher, baker and brewer for his own family. In such situations we can scarce expect to find even a smith, a carpenter, or a mason, within less than twenty miles of another of the same trade.
The scattered families that live at eight or ten miles distance from the nearest of them, must learn to perform themselves a great number of little pieces of work, for which, in more populous countries, they would call in the assistance of those workmen. Country workmen are almost every where obliged to apply themselves to all the different branches of industry that have so much affinity to one another as to be employed about the same sort of materials.
A country carpenter deals in every sort of work that is made of wood: a country smith in every sort of work that is made of iron. The former is not only a carpenter, but a joiner, a cabinet maker, and even a carver in wood, as well as a wheelwright, a ploughwright, a cart and waggon maker. The employments of the latter are still more various. It is impossible there should be such a trade as Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] even that of a nailer in the remote and inland parts of the Highlands of Scotland. Such a workman at the rate of a thousand nails a day, and three hundred working days in the year, will make three hundred thousand nails in the year.
Water-carriage widens the market, As by means of water-carriage a more extensive market is opened to every sort of industry than what land-carriage alone can afford it, so it is upon the sea-coast, and along the banks of navigable rivers, that industry of every kind naturally begins to subdivide and improve itself, and it is frequently not till a long time after that those improvements extend themselves to the inland parts of the country.
A broad-wheeled waggon, attended by two men, and drawn by eight horses, in about six weeks time carries and brings back between London and Edinburgh near four ton weight of goods. In about the same time a ship navigated by six or eight men, and sailing between the ports of London and Leith, frequently carries and brings back two hundred ton weight of goods.
Six or eight men, therefore, by the help of water-carriage, can carry and bring back in the same time the same quantity of goods between London and Edinburgh, as fifty broad-wheeled waggons, attended by a hundred men, and drawn by four hundred horses. Whereas, upon the same quantity of goods carried by water, there is to be charged only the maintenance of six or eight men, and the wear and tear of a ship of two hundred tons burthen, together with the value of the superior risk, or the difference of the insurance between land and water-carriage. There could be little or no commerce of any kind between the distant parts of the world.
What goods could bear the expence of land-carriage between London and Calcutta? Since such, therefore, are the advantages of water-carriage, it is and so the first improvements are on the sea-coast or navigable rivers, natural that the first improvements of art and industry should be made where this conveniency opens the whole world for a market to the produce of every sort of labour, and that they should always be much later in extending themselves into the inland parts of the country.
The inland parts of the country can for a long time have no other market for the greater part of their goods, but the country which lies round about them, and separates them from the sea-coast, and the great navigable rivers.