Adam Smith view on Women

Adam Smith on Women

What did Adam Smith think of the effect of wealth on women and family? This is an interesting question as many American guys complain that American society has become so wealthy that it has corrupted women’s ability to provide a happy family life.  They feel American women are spoiled and do not make good mothers and wives.  I am staying out of this one, as I do not know anything about it. It is just what my American friends complain about.   I am  American and Polish and my wife Polish. 

I am very happy with my marriage and family life.  Most if not all the guys I know here in Poland are very happy with their marriage and the super low divorce rate I think confirms this.

What was  Adam Smith’s take on Women and wealth? Let’s take a look.

Poverty… seems even to be favourable to generation (having children). A half-starved Highland (Scottish) woman frequently bears more than twenty children, while a pampered fine lady (a women who has wealth) is often incapable of bearing  (having) any, and is generally exhausted by two or three.

Adam Smith

Therefore, Adam Smith was conveying if a woman has too much money and wealth then the population of this society declines or at least stays in population equilibrium. 

This can be observed in developed counties in the world like Sweden. However, in poorer countries, women have more children. It is not the Scottish Highlands, today but maybe a country like India.  Adam Smith seems to put the onus on women.  Simply that women become too obsessed with the pursuit of pleasure to have children. Further, an easy life weakens basic primal strengths. Self manifest in present consumption replaces and family as the center of fulfillment.

Think about how many movie stars wait until they are 40 years old until they have a child.  Would you not rather marry a healthy Eastern European countryside girl with education in comparison to a hyper-consumptive 90210 lady? I would I did.

Remember, Smith was a moral philosopher and in contrast to the collective unconsciousness of today, that tells us consumption is the journey in life, his work Theory of Moral Sentiments tells a different story. Smith recommended, in the language and mores of the 18th century to live a meaningful life. This is in contrast to a life governed by one’s appetites.

A ‘lovely life’ to Smith was a moral life of balance and self-actualization and not appetitive hyper-consumption. He observed how people develop a ‘mutual sympathy of sentiments’. This could included marriage and family which paradoxically he never had.

Adam Smith on Women with Wealth

I like to go back to the primary source, that is the Wealth of Nations:

Barrenness (women not having children), so frequent among women of fashion, is very rare among those of inferior station (the poor or working class). Luxury, in the fair sex, while it inflames, perhaps, the passion for enjoyment (women going shopping and having a nice life in the suburbs), seems always to weaken, and frequently to destroy altogether, the powers of generation (having a family).

I am not agreeing or disagreeing with this. I am just evaluating this based on the primary source. Adam Smith believed excess wealth corrupts a woman’s ability to have a family. 

I am also saying I married a brainy educated girl from Eastern Europe and I am very happy, while many of my friends from Western countries that emphasis consumption over sacrifice are not happy in their family life or they themselves come from broken homes.

  • Wealth’s effect on nations is not always obvious to the people living in the society, hence, that is why I quoted Adam Smith for a more objective view.

I think wealth has an effect on women and men. Women as guardians of the family, language, and culture historically have an equal but unique vocation. Therefore, turning to economic classics help people in today’s society become aware of the issue. If you read Adam Smith on Women you can see it more objectively. Agree or disagree, let me think what your thoughts are?

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2 responses to “Adam Smith on Women”

  1. UtopianLobotomy

    Women are not the guardians of the family, this type of fallacious thinking is one of the types of thinking that ruined family court laws in the west.

    1. Mark Biernat

      It is not a political or legal statement, rather, I notice that women have a unique role in the family structure. Yes we are all equal and either gender can do anything, however, in a family unit, lets not talk America because there are too many mixed messages, but in other cultures in the world, take a look into any household and observe the interactions.

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