The Simple Wealth of Nations

In order to easily navigate theWealth of Nations, here is an outline or map of the important ideas that are in each sentence and paragraph. Unlike other summaries which just get the most prominent idea in a paragraph, this version extracts each idea from each sentence and summarizes all similar ideas into a new sentence. A paragraph which has many ideas and supporting ideas imbued in it will therefore have many sentences.

This outline will help transform The Wealth of Nations into a manual for socio-economic science, just like when a mechanic consults a car's service manual when troubleshooting a car. This manual can address both simple and complex questions about socio-economics, especially useful during future socio-economic crises.

Simplification Notes

  • Past and present tenses are used as if the current date is February 1773 for Book 1, January 1775 for Book 5, and year is 1784 for the rest of the books.
  • Whenever possible, the actual year (e.g. 1350) is used instead of the regnal year (e.g. 25th of Edward III).
  • Quotes ingreen text are profound statements by Adam Smith
  • Quotes inbold green text are maxims or very important ideas. A sentence is treated as a maxim if a thought is repeated by Smith with authority (such as his definition of real value) and if Smith indicates it as such ("It may be treated as a maxim that..").
  • Lines inbrown linesare statements from other writers
  • Lines inbold black are subheadings for a series of paragraphs about a certain idea
  • The word 'seems' have been simplified to 'is', to convey certainty.
  • 'Perhaps' and 'probably' has been maintained to convey less certainty.
  • 'Cultivation and improvement' has been interchangeably used.
  • 'Cultivation' is preferred to mean non-intensive or recurring or short term improvements  (as in annual agricultural cultivation)
  • 'Improvement' is preferred to mean intensive or permanent or long term improvement (as in public works or those sensible over many years or centuries)
  • Things and concepts that are antiquated such as a 'coach-and-six' has been replaced with its modern equivalent 'luxury coach'.
  • Some antiquated events such as the silver trade in China, has been replaced with modern examples, such as modern currency trade.
  • The following determinants imply:
    • Nearly all (90-99%)
    • Most (51-90%, Usually replaces "a greater part of the..")
    • Over half (51-75%)
Coin Conversion Based on Penny:
  • Farthing = 0.25 pence
  • Half Penny = 0.5 pence
  • Penny = 1 pence
  • 3-pence = 3 pence
  • 6-pence = 6 pence
  • Shilling = 12 pence
  • Florin = 24 pence
  • Half-crown = 30 pence
  • Pound = 240 pence

Book 1: The causes of productivity & how produce is naturally distributed

Chapter 1: Division Of Labour

  • Division of labour increases the productivity of society,  allows inventions, and creates opulence
  • Agriculture has less division of labour than manufacturing

Chapter 2: The cause of the division of labour

  • Division of labour and trade is rooted in the human ability to communicate and have logic & reason

Chapter 3: Division of labour is limited by the extent of the market

  • Increasing the market size through the improvement of transportation and communications is essential to achieve the opulence of society

Chapter 4: Of The origin and use of money

  • Metal money arose from the need to have a universal tool of trade to convey exchangeable value or real price.

Chapter 5: Real (labour) and nominal (money) price of commodities

  • Corn is a better measure of labour from century to century
  • Silver, or metal money, is a better measure from year to year
  • Gold Vs Silver
  • Coin Reformation
    • Reformation of Silver and Gold coins

    Chapter 6: The component parts of the price of commodities

    Chapter 7: The natural and market price of commodities

     Chapter 8: The Wages of Labour

    Chapter 9: Profits

    Chapter 10: Inequality in Wages and profit in the different employments

    1. Part 1: Inequalities from the Nature of Business and Employments
    • Five factors affect the nature of employment or business
    1. Agreeablness or Disagreeableness
    2. Cost and difficulty
    3. Constancy
    4. Trust
    5. Risk (Lotteries)
  • Four things needed to balance out the inequalities in revenue
    1. Economic freedom
    2. Time
    3. Ordinary or Natural state of business or employment
    4. Specialization
  • The policies that affect employment or business
    1. Apprenticeships
    2. Corporations
    3. Wage Subsidies
    4. Poor Laws and Restrictions on immigration

    Chapter 11: Rent

  • Digression on Variations on silver prices
    1. Mistaking wholesale price as retail price
    2. Laziness in making accurate copies
    3. Low ancient prices of wheat
  • Real Value
  • Second Period: 1570-1640 and Third Period: 1640-1700
  • Effect of demand on changes in silver prices
  • Variations Between Gold and Silver and Grounds for Suspecting Rising Silver
  • Effects of Improvement on the Three kinds of rude produce
  • Conclusion of Digression
  • Chapter Conclusion
    • Improvements reduce the real price of manufactures (clothing)
    • Three orders of people
  • Table
  • Book 2: The nature, accumulation, and employment of stock


    Chapter 1: Division of stock

    Chapter 2: Money as part of the general stock of the society, or the expence of maintaining the national capital

    Chapter 3: The Accumulation Of Capital, or Productive & Unproductive Labour

    Chapter 4: Interest

    Chapter 5: The Different Employment Of Capitals

    Book 3: The Different Progress Of Opulence In Different Nations

    Chapter 1: The Natural Progress Of Opulence

    • Rural vs urban

    Chapter 2: The Discouragement Of Agriculture After The Fall Of The Roman Empire

    Chapter 3: The Rise of Cities after The Fall Of The Roman Empire

    Chapter 4: How The Commerce Of The Towns Contributed To the country's improvement

    Book 4: Systems Of Political Œconomy


    Chapter 1: The Principle of the commercial or mercantile system

    Chapter 2: Restraints on foreign imports which can be produced at home (Invisible Hand)

    Chapter 3, Part 1: Extraordinary Restraints on Importation from Countries Where the Balance is supposed to be Disadvantageous

    Chapter 4: Drawbacks

    Chapter 5: Bounties

    Chapter 6: Treaties Of Commerce

    Chapter 7: Colonies

  • Part 3: The Advantages Europe Derived From The Discovery Of America and a Passage To The East Indies
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion on the Mercantile System

    Chapter 9: Agricultural Systems

    Book 5: The Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth

    Chapter 1: Government Expences

    • Part 1: Military Expenses
  • Part 2: Expense of Justice
  • Part 3: Expense for Public Works and Institutions
    • Article 1: Public Works and Institutions for facilitating general commerce
  • Article 2: Educational Institutions for the youth and women
  • Article 3: Educational Institutions for all ages
  • Article 4: Expenses for supporting the Sovereign's dignity
  • Chapter 2: The sources of public revenue

    • Part 1: The funds which belong to the state
  • Part 2: Taxes -- Taxation maxims
    • Article 1: Land Taxes / Land Rent
  • Article 2: Taxes on Profit
  • Appendix To Articles 1 & 2, Taxes on the capital value of land, houses, stock
  • Article 3: Taxes on Wages
  • Article 4: General Taxes
  • Chapter 3: Ways to pay the public debt

    1. Personal treasure or credit of the ruler
    2. Anticipations and Perpefual Funding
    3. Annuities
  • Monetary devaluation
    • Solutions
    1. Tax reform
    2. International barter tax