WEEK 2 Lecture- Sept. 20 . 2012
Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith Biography
Born in Scotland, in 1973-19??
He studied moral Philosophy, he had anxiety when we was studying in England so went
back to Scotland. At the age of 28, he became a popular professor known to be fun. He
lectured in English, it was unusual because the norm was to conduct the lectures in Latin.
He asked abt day to day life abt merchant’s wealth. In 1755 he wrote a book called theory
of moral sentiment. It had a general theory of moral forces tht guide him in behaviour.
He became a private tutor for Duke after he became rich selling his book. He started to
think abt economics and wrote another book, wealth of nations in 1766. The U.S used his
General Themes + Agenda
Investigation into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Nature of wealth- what does it mean to rich? 1. A rich country with natural resources (gold
mine, rich fertile, etc.) 2. Cash (the country with the most gold is the richest). 3. GNP/per
capita (Gross national product- rich country has more goods and services, more houses,
more mechanics, more health care services per person). If you can get good and services
without cash and natural resources they’re rich country. Wealth depends on the conditions
that make the person in society their productive ability are harnessed to their fullest
Military conquest is a way to get rich, by invading other countries for natural resources;
getting cash through export trading (mercantilism- exporting is good to get more cash,
importing is bad according to Smith); GNP/per capita, created country to use the population
in the most productive way through 2 general types of condition, 1. Universal conditions
such as A. labour productivity, country will be richer if it figures hw to use ppl’s ability in a
productive way (book 1) AND B. % of productive workers, the higher the proportion of
labour the more richer you will get (book 2). 2. Historical answers, specific histories of
specific countries and their specific religion, politics, etc. A. Agriculture vs. commerce, Smith
believes the road to wealth alwys start with agriculture as the base then you can dvlp a rich
wealth and commerce space. Europe had it backwards (book 3) B. Theories ppl had abt hw
to grow economics as they guide what they do (book 4) Patrimonialism: being in charge is for your own benefit. If king is rich, the nation is rich.
Smith is rejecting patrimonialism, as politics is to help the entire nation, the king can’t be
rich to be labelled as a rich country. Politics help or hinders the growth of nation (book 5)
Causes of Wealth: Division of Labour
What is division of labour?
Specialization. Divided labour into parts.
What are its forms?
Smith talks about 2 forms such as separation of employments and separation of tasks.
Separation of employments in different fields; separation of tasks is breaking up the process
into smaller tasks.
Why does it increase productivity?
(p.14-16) 3 reasons such as 1. Improved dexterity (skills): when u specialize and do one
thing, you do a lot better at it. 2. Time saving: focusing on one thing, you don’t nee