NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Adam Smith's "Tolerable Administration of Justice" and the Wealth of Nations

Douglas A. Irwin

NBER Working Paper No. 20636
Issued in October 2014
NBER Program(s):   DAE   DEV   LE   POL

In the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith argues that a country's national income depends on its labor productivity, which in turn hinges on the division of labor. But why are some countries able to take advantage of the division of labor and become rich, while others fail to do so and remain poor? Smith's answer, in an important but neglected theme of his work, is the security of property rights that enable individuals to "secure the fruits of their own labor" and allow the division of labor to occur. Countries that can establish a "tolerable administration of justice" to secure property rights and allow investment and exchange to take place will see economic progress take place. Smith's emphasis on a country's "institutions" in determining its relative income has been supported by recent empirical work on economic development.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20636

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Garicano and Rossi-Hansberg w20607 Knowledge-based Hierarchies: Using Organizations to Understand the Economy
Miller and Singer Babiarz w20586 Family Planning: Program Effects
Jones and Kim w20637 A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality
Foley and Manova w20634 International Trade, Multinational Activity, and Corporate Finance
Helliwell, Huang, Grover, and Wang w20686 Empirical Linkages between Good Government and National Well-being
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us