An Arab thinker invented economic theory 400 years before Adam Smith did

When students study economics they learn, early on, that Adam Smith is the “father of modern economics.” This idea is one of the most basic facts of western economics—but it doesn’t stack up.

A recent article in evonomics highlights the overlooked work of 14th century North African scholar Ibn Khaldun, who outlined strikingly similar ideas to those of Adam Smith almost half a millennium earlier.

Smith is known, in part, for his writing on the division of labor. He gave the example of...

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