Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 8 No. 2 (Spring 1994)


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The Politics of Market Socialism

Article Citation

Shleifer, Andrei, and Robert W. Vishny. 1994. "The Politics of Market Socialism." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8(2): 165-176.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.8.2.165


The debate over market socialism has ignored the importance of the assumptions about the objectives of politicians in determining resource allocation. Theory and evidence suggest that totalitarian socialism does not lead to efficient resource allocation because dictators do not maximize social welfare. But democratic governments have political objectives different from social welfare as well. The authors argue that because these governments command greater resources (have more control rights) under socialism, democratic socialism (even if it could exist) is a less efficient system than democratic capitalism. Thus the political case against market socialism is even stronger than the economic case.

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Shleifer, Andrei (Harvard U)
Vishny, Robert W. (U Chicago)

JEL Classifications

P26: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Political Economy; Property Rights
P23: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population


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