Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?

A Story About Women and Economics

Katrine Marçal

Published: 5 March 2015
Trade Paperback, Demy PB
135x216mm, 240 pages
ISBN: 9781846275647

Other Editions


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Published: 7 January 2016
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 240 pages
ISBN: 9781846275661

Ebook Available


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

When Adam Smith wrote that all our actions stem from self-interest and the world turns because of financial gain he brought to life 'economic man'. Selfish and cynical, economic man has dominated our thinking ever since and his influence has spread from the market to how we shop, work and date. But every night Adam Smith's mother served him his dinner, not out of self-interest but out of love.

Today, our economics focuses on self-interest and excludes all other motivations. It disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking. It insists that if women are paid less, then that's because their labour is worth less - how could it be otherwise?

Economics has told us a story about how the world works and we have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. Now it's time to change the story.

In this courageous look at the mess we're in, Katrine Marçal tackles the biggest myth of our time and invites us to kick out economic man once and for all.

About the author

Image of Katrine Marçal

Katrine Marçal is a correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. On publication in Sweden, Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner was shortlisted for The August Prize and won the Lagercrantzen Award. She lives in Hertfordshire. More about the author


‘[A] spirited and witty manifesto... In commanding rhetoric punctuated with spiky wit... Marçal does not seek to yoke every last aspect of our lives to the tyranny of Homo economicus. Rather, she asks why we have fetishised the myth, and suggests that man denuded of his humanity is not such a figure to aspire to after all’ Caroline Criado-Perez



‘[A] wise critique of current economics’ Lesley McDowell

‘"Beyond the reach of the invisible hand there is the invisible sex," writes Marçal. This is economics through a wholly different prism - challenging and illuminating for every man and woman who reads it. As every man and woman mustWill Hutton, author

‘A highly effective counterblast, shining light on a profession in which decisions can be, technically speaking "rational" and at the same time barking mad’

‘A welcome addition to a canon dominated by men. With feminist incisiveness [Marçal] looks at the mess we're in. Witty and perceptive’ Vanessa Baird

‘Incisive and witty, Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? seeks to restore a sense of humanity, empathy and care to our picture of economic and gender relations. Katrine Marçal's book is instructive, angry and funny: economic man has met his match’ Nina Power, author

‘Polemical and entertaining’ Heather Steward

‘The book skewers "economic man" [...] with admirable wit and lightness of touch’ Nick Spencer

‘Thought provoking’ Jessica Abrahams

‘Who cooked Adam Smith's dinner? His mother, of course. From this compelling insight, Katrine Marçal builds her critique of economic man, exposing him for the sham he really is. Erudite, furious, and eminently readable, this book will send a great many economists running for cover’ Philip Roscoe, author

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