Chapter 1b


by Adam Smith Icon

Generally, the work of one man in a rude state of society is the work of several men in an improved one. In every improved society:

  • the farmer is generally just a farmer, and
  • the manufacturer is just a manufacturer.

The labour needed to produce any manufacture is almost always divided among many hands.

So many different trades are employed in each branch of the linen and woollen manufactures:

  • the growers of the flax and the wool,
  • the bleachers and smoothers of the linen, or
  • the dyers and dressers of the cloth!

The nature of agriculture does not allow:

  • so many subdivisions of labour, nor
  • so complete a separation of one business from another, as in manufactures *

*Superphysics note: This is why Economic Superphysics advocates a country’s agricultural sector to not be more than 30% of its GDP

It is impossible to entirely separate the grazier’s business from the wheat-farmer’s business.

  • But the carpenter’s trade is commonly separated from the smith’s trade.
  • 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 wheat, are often the same.

It is impossible for one man to be constantly employed in any agricultural work because they are seasonal.

The improvement of productivity in agriculture does not always keep pace with the improvement of productivity in manufactures because of the impossibility of completely separating the branches of agricultural labour.

The most opulent nations generally excel in agriculture and manufactures. But they are more distinguished by their manufacturing superiority.

  • Their lands are generally better cultivated.
  • They produce more, relative to natural fertility of the ground, because of the increased labour and expence applied on them.

But this increased produce is seldom much more than the increased labour and expence.

In agriculture, the labour of a rich country is not always much more productive than that of a poor country. At least, it is never much more productive as in manufactures.

Therefore, a rich country’s wheat will not always be cheaper than a poor country’s wheat.

  • The wheat of Poland is as cheap as the wheat of France of the same quality, despite the superior opulence and improvement of France.
  • The wheat of France usually has the same price as English wheat of the same quality, even if France is poorer than England.

However, the wheat lands of England are better cultivated than those of France, and the wheat lands of France are much better cultivated than those of Poland.

A poor country might be able to rival a rich country in the cheapness and quality of its wheat. But it cannot compete in its manufactures, unless those manufactures suit the soil, climate, and situation of the rich country.

French silks are better and cheaper than English silks because the silk manufacture suits the climate of France better.

There are currently high duties on silk importation. But England’s hardware and coarse woollens are far superior to those of France. They are much cheaper with the same quality.

Poland only has coarse household manufactures which are used locally.

Productivity is increased by dexterity, time savings, and machines.


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