Review: Gross domestic oversight

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? Katrine Marçal, Portobello Books, £12.99

The World Today Published 1 April 2015 Updated 4 March 2021 2 minute READ

Diane Coyle

Professor of Economics, University of Manchester

The answer to the question posed by the title of Katrine Marçal’s short and lively book is his mother. Adam Smith famously wrote: ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’

That statement ignores a vital stage of the dinner-making process. ‘Adam Smith never married. The father of economics lived with his mother for most of his life … She took care of her son, and she is part of the answer to the question of how we get our dinner that Adam Smith omits.’ This book is, to quote the subtitle, a story about women and economics.

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