Adam Smith's Simplified Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 10a, Part 1: Profit and wage inequality from the nature of the job or business itself -- Agreeableness and cost of job
Chapter 10a, Part 1: Profit and wage inequality in different Occupations and Businesses -- Agreeableness or cost of job
1The advantages and disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock must be perfectly equal or continually tending to equality in the same neighbourhood.
- If there was advantageous employment, so many people would crowd into it in the one case, and so many would desert it in the other, that its advantages would soon be at level with other employments.
- This would happen where:
- there was perfect liberty
- things were left to follow their natural course
- everyone was free to choose and change their occupation as they saw fit.
- Every man would seek the advantageous, and shun the disadvantageous employment.
Wages and profit in Europe are extremely different according to the different employments of labour and stock.
- This difference arises partly from:
- Certain circumstances in the employments themselves.
- These circumstances create a small gain in some employments while diminish or offset a great gain in others.
- The policy of Europe which restrains perfect liberty.
3 This chapter will be divided into those two parts.
Part 1: Inequalities arising from the Nature of the Employments themselves
Five principal circumstances create a small monetary gain in some employments and diminish or offset a gain in others:
- The agreeableness or disagreeableness of the employments
- The the difficulty and cost of learning them
- The constancy or inconstancy of employment in them
- The small or great trust which must be reposed in those who exercise them
- The probability or improbability of success in them.
- First, wages vary with the employment's:
- ease or hardship
- A journeyman tailor has an easier work than a journeyman weaver and earns less
- cleanliness or dirtiness
- The journeyman weaver has a cleanlier work than a journeyman blacksmith and earns less
- A journeyman blacksmith, though an artificer, seldom earns in 12 hours what a coal miner does in eight hours.
- The blacksmith's job is:
- not as dirty nor dangerous
- done in daytime above ground.
- honourableness or dishonourableness
- Honour makes a great part of the reward of all honourable professions.
- They are generally under-compensated in terms of monetary gain.
- Disgrace has the contrary effect.
- The work of a butcher is a brutal and odious, but is more profitable than most common employments.
- The public executioner is the most detestable employment, but is better paid than any common trade.
Hunting and fishing are important employments in the rude state.
- They become amusements in the advanced state.
- In the advanced state, hunters and fishermen are all very poor.
- In countries where hunting is legal, the licensed hunter is not in a much better condition.
- The natural human preference for hunting and fishing makes more people follow them.
- The produce of their labour is always too cheap.
- It only affords the most scanty subsistence.
Disagreeableness and disgrace affect profits and wages in the same way.
- The innkeeper does not have a very agreeable nor creditable business, though it is very profitable for a small stock.
- Secondly, wages vary with the difficulty and cost of learning the business.
- 9 When any expensive machine is built, the work it must perform must replace the capital spent for it, with at least ordinary profits.
- A man educated and employed in jobs which require extraordinary dexterity and skill is like one of those expensive machines.
- The work which he learns must replace to him the whole cost of his education, with at least ordinary profits within a reasonable time since human life is uncertain unlike the life of a machine.
10"The difference between the wages of skilled labour and those of common labour, is founded upon this principle."
11 The policy of Europe considers:
- Mechanics, artificers, and manufacturers, as skilled labour
- Country labourers as common labour
Although skilled labour seems more nice and delicate than common labour, it is not.
- European laws and customs impose apprenticeships to qualify any person for skilled labour.
- But they leave common labour free and open to everybody.
- During the apprenticeship, the apprentice's labour belongs to his master.
- In the meantime, he must be maintained and clothed by his parents or relations.
- Some money too is given to the master for teaching him.
- Those who cannot give money, give time or become bound for longer than usual.
- This is not always advantageous to the master.
- But it is always disadvantageous to the apprentice because of their idleness.
- In country labour, on the contrary, the labourer can maintain himself while he is employed and learning.
- It is reasonable, therefore, that the wages of mechanics, artificers, and manufacturers should be higher than those of common labourers.
- This makes them considered as a superior rank.
- This superiority, however, is very small
- The daily earnings of journeymen are very little more than the day wages of common labourers.
- The employment of journeymen in common trades is more steady and uniform.
- Their earnings are just sufficient to compensate the cost of their education.
Education in the arts and in the liberal professions, is even more tedious and expensive.
- The monetary compensation of painters, sculptors, lawyers, and physicians, should be and is much more liberal.
Profits are very little affected by the ease or difficulty of learning the business.
- All the businesses in great towns are almost equally easy or difficult to learn.
- Foreign or domestic businesses have the same intricacy.
Next: Chapter 10b: Constancy and Trust