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Originally taken from Wikipedia entry on Progress and Poverty

Progress and Poverty was written by Henry George in 1879. The book is a treatise on the cyclical nature of an industrial economy and its remedies.


The book basically seeks to explain why poverty is virtually unknown in primitive societies but widespread wherever there is great wealth.

George saw how technological and social advances (including education and public services) increased the value of land (natural resources, urban locations, etc) and, thus, the amount of wealth that can be demanded by the owners of land from those who need the use of land. In other words: the better the public services, the higher the rent is (as more people value that land).The tendency of speculators to increase the price of land faster than wealth can be produced to pay has the result of lowering the amount of wealth left over for labor to claim in wages, and finally leads to the collapse of enterprises at the margin, with a ripple effect that becomes a serious business depression entailing widespread unemployment, foreclosures, etc.

In Progress and Poverty, George examines various proposed strategies to prevent business depressions, unemployment and poverty, but finds them unsatisfactory. As an alternative he proposes his own solution: a single tax on land values. This would be a tax on the annual value of land held as private property. It would be high enough to allow for all other taxes -- especially upon labor and production -- to be abolished. George argued that a land value tax would give landowners an incentive to use the land in a productive way, thereby employing labor and creating wealth, or to sell the land at affordable prices to those who would themselves use the land in a productive way. This shift in the bargaining balance between resource owners and laborers would raise the general level of wages and ensure no one need suffer involuntary poverty.

Soon after its publication, over three million copies of Progress and Poverty were bought.

Links to Online VersionEdit

Links to an online version of Progress and Poverty, (plus supplements), provided by The Henry George Institute at the website


  • Publisher’s Foreword by Cliff Cobb
  • Editor’s Preface by Bob Drake
  • Author’s Preface to the Fourth Edition

Introduction: The Problem of Poverty Amid ProgressEdit

First Part: Wages and CapitalEdit

"Economics" and Political Economy
Miniquiz with Answers

Second Part: Population and SubsistenceEdit

Does Overpopulation Cause Poverty?
Malthus: Still Wrong After All These Years by Lindy Davies

Third Part: The Laws of DistributionEdit

Capital, Interest, and Profits
The Law of Rent
A Closer Look at the Law of Rent

Fourth Part: The Effect of Material Progress on the Distribution of WealthEdit

Land Speculation
Speculation Abolished

Fifth Part: The Problem SolvedEdit

The Dog in the Manger: Who Are the Land Speculators?
Land Speculation and the Boom/Bust Cycle
Land Rent and Selling Price
Can We Eliminate the Boom/Bust Cycle?

Sixth Part: The RemedyEdit

Henry George's Remedy: Is It Right? Will It Work?

Seventh Part: Justice of the RemedyEdit

Definition of Rent

Eighth Part: Application of the RemedyEdit

How do we divide the fruits of labor?
What Happens When Communities DON'T Collect the Rent?
The Aftermath of Proposition 13
Taxes: What Are They Good For?

Ninth Part: Effects of the RemedyEdit

Land Rent and Selling Price
Land Rent and the Urban Dilemma
Land Rent and the Environment

Tenth Part: The Law of Human ProgressEdit

Afterword: Who Was Henry George?Edit

  • by Agnes George deMille

External linksEdit