The 5 Main Features of Adam Smith’s Wealth-Oriented Definition

(i) Study of Wealth:

Economics deals with the study of wealth only. Therefore, it is concerned with the activities of man related to production, consumption, exchange and distribution of wealth.

(ii) Only Material Commodities:

This definition conveys the feeling that economics constitutes only material commodities while it ignores non-material goods as air, water and sunshine.

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(iii) Stress on Wealth:

Since the main aim of the political economy is to increase the riches of the economy, it gives more stress on wealth, not anything else.

(iv) Causes of Wealth:

Economics is considered as study of causes of wealth accumulation which brings economic development. In order to increase wealth, production of material goods will have to be increased.

(v) Economic Man:

This definition is basically based on the man who is always aware of his ‘self-interest’ that leads him to material gains.

That Economics is a ‘Science of Wealth’ continued to dominate the writings of economists and social philosophers for a long time, lasting almost a century. Then, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when religion and ethics had a strong hold on minds of men, anything which was connected with wealth and riches was looked upon as sordid and mean.

Since economics was defined as study of wealth, it was dubbed by men of letters, especially Carlyle and Ruskin, as ‘Gospel of Mammon’ a ‘pig science’, a ‘dismal science’ and a ‘bread-and-butter science’.

It was alleged that economists had ignored the higher values of life and are hankering after formulation of laws which seek to “enrich both the people and the sovereign”.

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