Progress and Poverty Study Guide

Study Guide to Henry George’s Progress And Poverty

Study Guide Q&A: FYS Spring 2000


Progress and Poverty
by Henry George

The notes and questions in this study guide are based on lectures developed by economist Mason Gaffney of the University of California, Riverside.

You should be able to follow George’s argument without a lot of help. This book is considered a masterwork of exposition because it hews to an outline that defines an issue, sticks with it, and builds a coherent, articulated thesis. It makes a good model to help you organize your own writing, from exams to reports and dissertations. That is true whether or not you agree with George’s thesis. The point is, you can follow it. If you disagree, you can say exactly why, and where you depart from the carefully constructed thesis

Introductory: “The Problem”

1. From what evidence does George infer there is a common cause for unemployment in various countries? 6

It is found where tariffs are high, or low; where governments are autocratic, or democratic; where armies are strong, or weak; where money is paper, or gold. Those differences do not seem to matter. It is found in all advanced nations.

2. Why does
George associate said common cause with material progress? 6-7

Depressions, which accentuate the problem, “are but intensifications of phenomena which always accompany material progress.”


Book I:
“Wages and Capital”
Chapter 1: “The Current Doctrine of Wages—Its Insufficiency”
Chapter 2: “The Meaning of the Terms”
Chapter 3: ” Wages Not Drawn from Capital, But Produced by the Labor”
Chapter 4: “The Maintenance of Laborers Not Drawn from Capital”
Chapter 5: “The Real Functions of Capital”
Book II:
“Population and Subsistence”
Chapter 1: “The Malthusian Theory, Its Genesis and Support
Chapter 2: “Inferences from Facts”
Chapter 3: “Inferences from Analogy”
Chapter 4: “Disproof of the Malthusian Theory”
Book III:
“The Laws of Distribution”
Chapter 1: “The Inquiry Narrowed to the Laws of Distribution the Necessary Relation of These Laws.”
Chapter 2: “Rent and the Law of Rent”
Chapter 3: “Interest and the Cause of Interest”
Chapter 4: “Of Spurious Capital and of Profits
Often Mistaken for Interest”
Chapter 5: “The Law of Interest”
Chapter 6: “Wages and the Law of Wages”
Chapter 7: “The Correlation and Coordination of these Laws”
Chapter 8: “The Statics of the Problem Thus Explained”
Book IV:
“The Effect of Material Progress on the Distribution of Wealth”
Chapter 1: “The Dynamics of the Problem Yet to Seek”
Chapter 2: “The Effect of Increase of Population upon the Distribution of Wealth”
Chapter 3: “The Effect of Improvements in the Arts
upon the Distribution of Wealth”
Chapter 4: “The Effect of the Expectation Raised by Material Progress”
Book V:
“The Problem Solved”
Chapter 1: “The Primary Cause of Recurring Paroxysms
of Industrial Depression”
Chapter 2: “The Persistence of Poverty amid Advancing Wealth”
Book VI:
“The Remedy”
Chapter 1: “Insufficiency of Remedies Currently Advocated
Chapter 2: “The True Remedy”
Book VII:
“Justice of the Remedy”
Chapter 1: “The Injustice of Private Property in Land”
Chapter 2: “The Enslavement of Laborers the Ultimate Results
of Private Property in Land”
Chapter 3: “Claim of Land Owners to Compensation”
Chapter 4: “Private Property in Land Historically Considered”
Chapter 5: “Of Property in Land in the United States”
Book VIII:
“Application of the Remedy”
Chapter 1: “Private Property in Land Inconsistent
with the Best Use of Land”
Chapter 2: “How Equal Rights to the Land May
Be Asserted and Secured”
Chapter 4: “Indorsements and Objections”
Book IX:
“Effects of the Remedy”
Chapter 1: “Of the Effect upon the Production of Wealth”
Chapter 2: “Of the Effect upon Distribution
and Thence upon Production”
Chapter 3: “Of the Effect upon Individuals and Classes”
Chapter 4: “Of the Changes That Would Be Wrought
in Social Organization and Social Life”
Book X:
“The Law of Human Progress”
Chapter 1: “The Current Theory of Human Progress—
Its Insufficiency”
Chapter 2: “Difference in Civilization—To What Due”
Chapter 3: “The Law of Human Progress”
Chapter 4: “How Modern Civilization May Decline”
Chapter 5: “The Central Truth”
Conclusion: “The Problem of Individual Life”


Mason Gaffney once summarized foreign aid as
“taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving
it to rich people in poor countries.”