Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations


Category: Economics and Philosophy

By Adam Smith

Published in 1776

Reference #0325-27

First Dublin Edition. “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” is known as one of the world’s first and greatest works on modern economics. Its foundation was constructed from Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and was the culmination of seventeen years of notes and observations.

The work’s publication was such a success that its first edition sold out in six months and was followed by five editions that were published in Smith’s lifetime (1776, 1778, 1784, 1786, and 1789). “Wealth of Nations” reflected on the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and touched upon topics such as the division of labor, productivity, and free markets.

It contains many specific references to America and its trade before the Industrial Revolution, creating a convincing argument against the mercantile system. The theme that persists throughout the work is the concept that the economic system is automatic and, if allowed to have ample freedom, it will be able to regulate itself. This ability to self-regulate is threatened by monopolies, tax preferences, lobbying groups, and others who have been extended privileges at the expense of others.