An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published on March 9, 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. Through reflection over the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labor, productivity, and free markets.
The Wealth of Nations was published during the Scottish Enlightenment and the Scottish Agricultural Revolution. It influenced a number of authors and economists, as well as governments and organizations.
The Wealth of Nations was the product of seventeen years of notes, and observation of conversation among economists of the time concerning economic and societal conditions during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and took Smith ten years to produce. It provided the foundation for new economists, politicians, mathematicians, biologists, and thinkers of all fields to build upon. Irrespective of historical influence, The Wealth of Nations represented a clear shift in the field of economics, similar to Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica for physics, Antoine Lavoisier’s Traité Élémentaire de Chimie for chemistry, or Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species for biology