whether they consist in wages or profit
greatly above their natural rate
The price of monopoly is upon every occasion 
the highest which can be got. The natural 
price, or the price of free competition, on 
the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken, 
not upon every occasion indeed, but for any 
considerable time together. The one is upon 
every occasion the highest which can be 
squeezed out of the buyers, or which it is supposed 
they will consent to give; the other is 
the lowest which the sellers can commonly 
afford to take, and at the same time continue 
their business
The exclusive privileges of corporations
statutes of apprenticeship, and all those laws 
which restrain in particular employments, the 
competition to a smaller number than might 
otherwise go into them, have the same tendency
though in a less degree. They are a 
sort of enlarged monopolies, and may frequently
for ages together, and in whole classes 
of employments, keep up the market price of 
particular commodities above the natural price
and maintain both wages of the labour and 
the profits of the stock employed about them 
somewhat above their natural rate
Such enhancements of the market price may 
last as long as the regulations of police which 
give occasion to them. 
The market price of any particular commodity
though it may continue long above, can 
seldom continue long below, its natural price
Whatever part of it was paid below the natural 
rate, the persons whose interest is affected 
would immediately feel the loss, and would 
immediately withdraw either so much land or 
so much labour, or so much stock, from being 
employed about it, that the quantity brought 
to market would soon be no more than sufficient 
to supply the effectual demand. Its market 
price, therefore, would soon rise to the 
natural price; this at least would be the case 
where there was perfect liberty
The same statutes of apprenticeship and 
other corporation laws, indeed, which, when a 
manufacture is in prosperity, enable the workman 
to raise his wages a good deal above their 
natural rate, sometimes oblige him, when it 
decays, to let them down a good deal below 
it. As in the one case they exclude many 
people from his employment, so in the other 
they exclude him from many employments
The effect of such regulations, however, is not 
near so durable in sinking the workman's 
wages below, as in raising them above their 
natural rate. Their operation in the one way 
may endure for many centuries, but in the 
other it can last no longer than the lives of 
some of the workmen who were bred to the 
business in the time of prosperity. When 
they are gone, the number of those who are 
afterwards educated to the trade will naturally 
suit itself to the effectual demand. The police 
must be as violent as that of Indostan or 
ancient Egypt (where every man was bound 
by a principle of religion to follow the occupation 
of his father, and was supposed to commit 
the most horrid sacrilege if he changed it 
for another), which can in any particular employment
and for several generations together, 
sink either the wages of labour or the profits 
of stock below their natural rate
This is all that I think necessary to be observed 
at present concerning the deviations, 
whether occasional or permanent, of the market 
price of commodities from the natural 
The natural price itself varies with the natural 
rate of each of its component parts, or 
wages, profit, and rent; and in every society 
this rate varies according to their circumstances, 
according to their riches and poverty, their 
advancing, stationary, or declining condition
I shall, in the four following chapters, endeavour 
to explain, as fully and distinctly as I can, 
the causes of those different variations. 
First, I shall endeavour to explain what are 
the circumstances which naturally determine 
the rate of wages, and in what manner those 
circumstances are affected by the riches or poverty
by the advancing, stationary, or declining 
state of the society
Secondly, I shall endeavour to shew what 
are the circumstances which naturally determine 
the rate of profit; and in what manner
too, those circumstances are affected by the 
like variations in the state of the society
Though pecuniary wages and profit are very 
different in the different employments of labour 
and stock; yet a certain proportion seems 
commonly to take place between both the pecuniary 
wages in all the different employments 
of labour, and the pecuniary profits in all the 
different employments of stock. This proportion
it will appear hereafter, depends partly 
upon the nature of the different employments
and partly upon the different laws and 
policy of the society in which they are carried 
on. But though in many respects dependent 
upon the laws and policy, this proportion 
seems to be little affected by the riches or poverty 
of that society, by its advancing, stationary
or declining condition, but to remain 
the same, or very nearly the same, in all those 
different states. I shall, in the third place
endeavour to explain all the different circumstances 
which regulate this proportion
In the fourth and last place, I shall endeavour 
to shew what are the circumstances which 
regulate the rent of land, and which either 
raise or lower the price of all the different 
substances which it produces.