What is Economics? Adam Smith

Yesterday, Amy Hall at Stand to Reason wrote that economics is “the study of human decisions”. This has gotten me interested in the history of how economics is defined, which I will be posting about during the next few days. The first will be Adam Smith’s definition from the introduction to Book IV of his magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations:

Political œconomy, considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, proposes two distinct objects: first, to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the sovereign.

Eamonn Butler from the Adam Smith Institute rephrase it as such in The Condensed Wealth of Nations:

Economics is about how to generate income for the people and to supply a revenue for the state.


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