Adam_Smith_wealth_of_nations - Policy Summer(Dec-Feb...

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Summer 1999-00 Contents Spring 1999 Winter 1999 More articles in Summer 1999-00 The Idea of a Constitution and Why Constitutions Matter Suri Ratnapala Better than the Australian Industrial Relations Commission Des Moore Prioritising Policies for Prosperity Tony Makin Three Short Essays on the Division of Labour by Adam Smith Click here for PDF version Of the Division of Labour The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity and judgement with which it is any where directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour. The effects of the division of labour, in the general business of society, will be more easily understood, by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures . . . To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business . . . nor acquainted with the use of machinery employed in it . . . could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands . . . I have seen a small manufactory . . . where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were . . . indifferently accommodated with the Page 1 of 6 Policy Summer (Dec-Feb) 1999-00 8/11/2005
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Autumn 1999 necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day . . . Those ten persons . . . could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore . . . might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently . . . they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day. . . . The division of labour . . . so far as it can be introduced, occasions in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. The separation of different trades and employments from one another, seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage. This separation . . . is generally carried furthest in those countries
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Adam_Smith_wealth_of_nations - Policy Summer(Dec-Feb...

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