Application information relevant to your country including entry requirements, exhibitions, financial aid and the advisors available to help you. The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith installed himself as the leading expositor of economic thought. Adam Smith was born in a small village in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, where his widowed mother raised him. At age fourteen, as was the usual practice, he adam smith biography pdf the University of Glasgow on scholarship.

He later attended Balliol College at Oxford, graduating with an extensive knowledge of European literature and an enduring contempt for English schools. He left academia in 1764 to tutor the young duke of Buccleuch. With the life pension he had earned in the service of the duke, Smith retired to his birthplace of Kirkcaldy to write The Wealth of Nations. In 1778 he was appointed commissioner of customs. In this job he helped enforce laws against smuggling.

He died in Edinburgh on July 19, 1790. Today Smith’s reputation rests on his explanation of how rational self-interest in a free-market economy leads to economic well-being. In fact, while chair at the University of Glasgow, Smith’s lecture subjects, in order of preference, were natural theology, ethics, jurisprudence, and economics, according to John Millar, Smith’s pupil at the time. Charity, while a virtuous act, cannot alone provide the essentials for living.

Self-interest is the mechanism that can remedy this shortcoming. Someone earning money by his own labor benefits himself. Unknowingly, he also benefits society, because to earn income on his labor in a competitive market, he must produce something others value. By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. The Wealth of Nations, published as a five-book series, sought to reveal the nature and cause of a nation’s prosperity. Smith saw the main cause of prosperity as increasing division of labor.

Using the famous example of pins, Smith asserted that ten workers could produce 48,000 pins per day if each of eighteen specialized tasks was assigned to particular workers. 4,800 pins per worker per day. But absent the division of labor, a worker would be lucky to produce even one pin per day. Just how individuals can best apply their own labor or any other resource is a central subject in the first book of the series. Smith claimed that an individual would invest a resource—for example, land or labor—so as to earn the highest possible return on it. Not surprisingly, and consistent with another Stigler claim that the originator of an idea in economics almost never gets the credit, Smith’s idea was not original.