From Chapter V of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith:

Though the real value of a corn rent, it is to be observed, however, varies much less from century to century than that of a money rent, it varies much more from year to year. The money price of labour, as I shall endeavour to show hereafter, does not fluctuate from year to year with the money price of corn, but seems to be everywhere accommodated, not to the temporary or occasional, but to the average or ordinary price of that necessary of life.

What does he mean by "money price of labor"? Why did he say it's accommodated with average "price of that necessary of life"?

  • economics.stackexchange.com may be more equipped to answer this question, since it is about the interpretation of technical economic terms in the context of Adam Smith's understanding, rather than about his book considered as a literary work
    – alexg
    May 15 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


What does he mean by "money price of labor"?

Salaries, i.e. the price you have to pay to get someone to perform labor for you.

Why did he say it's accommodated with average "price of that necessary of life"?

That's statement that most people today would consider a truism: Salaries are tied to the average cost of living.

Translating the paragraph to modern "plain English" and adding some explanations yields:

"The value of agricultural products changes less in the long term than the value of money does (due to inflation), but it can change a lot in the short term (due to bad or good harvests). Salaries, as I will try to show later, do not change in the short term like food prices do, but seem to be tied everywhere not to the temporary, but to the average or typical cost of living."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.