might not be the same in countries where the 
ordinary rate of profit was either a good deal 
lower, or a good deal higher. If it were a 
good deal lower, one half of it, perhaps, could 
not be afforded for interest; and more might 
be afforded if it were a good deal higher
In countries which are fast advancing to 
riches, the low rate of profit may, in the price 
of many commodities, compensate the high 
wages of labour, and enable those countries 
to sell as cheap as their less thriving neighbours
among whom the wages of labour may 
be lower
In reality, high profits tend much more to 
raise the price of work than high wages. If, 
in the linen manufacture, for example, the 
wages of the different working people, the flax-dressers
the spinners, the weavers, &c. should 
all of them be advanced twopence a-day, it 
would be necessary to heighten the price of a 
piece of linen only by a number of twopences 
equal to the number of people that had been 
employed about it, multiplied by the number 
of days during which they had been so employed
That part of the price of the commodity 
which resolved itself into the wages
would, through all the different stages of the 
manufacture, rise only in arithmetical proportion 
to this rise of wages. But if the profits 
of all the different employers of those working 
people should be raised five per cent. that 
part of the price of the commodity which resolved 
itself into profit would, through all the 
different stages of the manufacture, rise in 
geometrical proportion to this rise of profit
The employer of the flax-dressers would, in 
selling his flax, require an additional five per 
cent. upon the whole value of the materials 
and wages which he advanced to his workmen
The employer of the spinners would require 
an additional five per cent. both upon the advanced 
price of the flax, and upon the wages 
of the spinners. And the employer of the 
weavers would require a like five per cent. 
both upon the advanced price of the linen-yarn
and upon the wages of the weavers. In 
raising the price of commodities, the rise of 
wages operates in the same manner as simple 
interest does in the accumulation of debt. 
The rise of profit operates like compound interest
Our merchants and master manufacturers 
complain much of the bad effects of 
high wages in raising the price, and thereby 
lessening the sale of their goods, both at home 
and abroad. They say nothing concerning 
the bad effects of high profits; they are silent 
with regard to the pernicious effects of their 
own gains; they complain only of those of 
other people. 
The whole of the advantages and disadvantages 
of the different employments of labour 
and stock, must, in the same neighbourhood
be either perfectly equal, or continually tending 
to equality. If, in the same neighbourhood
there was any employment evidently 
either more or less advantageous than the rest
so many people would crowd into it in the one 
case, and so many would desert it in the other, 
that its advantages would soon return to the 
level of other employments. This, at least, 
would be the case in a society where things 
were left to follow their natural course, where 
there was perfect liberty, and where every man 
was perfectly free both to choose what occupation 
he thought proper, and to change it as 
often as he thought proper. Every man's interest 
would prompt him to seek the advantageous, 
and to shun the disadvantageous employment
Pecuniary wages and profit, indeed, are 
everywhere in Europe extremely different, according 
to the different employments of labour 
and stock. But this difference arises, partly 
from certain circumstances in the employments 
themselves, which, either really, or at 
least in the imagination of men, make up for 
a small pecuniary gain in some, and counterbalance 
a great one in others, and partly from 
the policy of Europe, which nowhere leaves 
things at perfect liberty
The particular consideration of those circumstances
and of that policy, will divide 
this Chapter into two parts
Part I.—Inequalities arising from the nature 
of the employments themselves. 
The five following are the principal circumstances 
which, so far as I have been able to 
observe, make up for a small pecuniary gain 
in some employments, and counterbalance a 
great one in others. First, the agreeableness 
or disagreeableness of the employments themselves; 
secondly, the easiness and cheapness
or the difficulty and expense of learning them; 
thirdly, the constancy or inconstancy of employment 
in them; fourthly, the small or great 
trust which must be reposed in those who exercise 
them; and, fifthly, the probability or 
improbability of success in them. 
First, the wages of labour vary with the 
ease or hardship, the cleanliness or dirtiness
the honourableness or dishonourableness, of 
the employment. Thus in most places, take 
the year round, a journeyman tailor earns less 
than a journeyman weaver. His work is much