On the Smithian Origins of "New" Trade and Growth Theories
Univ. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign Commerce & Business Admin. Working Paper No. 02-0100
17 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2002
Date Written: January 29, 2002
Adam Smith (1776) is generally ignored as an international trade theorist in textbooks and surveys because of the common belief that he only confirmed the rule of absolute advantages to explain structure of foreign trade. On the other hand, many textbooks and surveys on growth theories simply overlook Smith's significant contributions to economic growth theory. However, his vent-for-surplus approach may be interpreted as a pioneering study which stresses the importance of economies-of-scale in explaining the structure of foreign trade. Furthermore, in Smith (1776), both learning by doing and economies-of-scale are crucial to explain long-run economic growth. This short paper addresses to the undeniable influence of Smith's concepts such as "extent of the market", "division of labor", "improved dexterity in every particular workman" and "simple inventions coming from workman" on both recent trade and growth models. The note mainly is based on a schematic outline of Smith's ideas on the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.
Keywords: History of economic thought, Adam Smith, international trade theory, vent-for-surplus approach, economies-of-scale, learning by doing, externalities, endogenous growth
JEL Classification: A11, B12, B22, F12, O30, O40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation