THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.
by Adam Smith
INTRODUCTION AND PLAN OF THE WORK.
The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally
supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life 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
According, therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it,
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 different
circumstances: first, by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which
its labour is generally applied; and, secondly, by the proportion
between the number of those who are employed in useful labour, and
that of those who are not so employed. Whatever be the soil, climate,
or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or
scantiness of its annual supply must, in that particular situation,
depend upon those two circumstances.
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, and 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,... [continues]
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