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Market Economy vs. Command Economy: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 22, 2023
A market economy is driven by supply and demand with minimal government intervention, whereas a command economy is controlled by the government, dictating production and distribution.

Key Differences

In a market economy, decisions about production and pricing are determined by market forces, whereas in a command economy, these decisions are made by the government.
Market economies encourage competition and consumer choice, leading to innovation and efficiency. Command economies, however, may lack such dynamism due to central planning.
In a market economy, private ownership is predominant, fostering entrepreneurial activities. Conversely, in a command economy, the government owns most resources, limiting private enterprise.
Market economies adjust to changes through market signals like price changes. While, command economies often struggle with responsiveness due to bureaucratic processes.
In a market economy, the role of the government is usually to regulate and protect. In contrast, a command economy sees the government as the primary economic actor.

Comparison Chart


Decisions driven by supply, demand, and competition.
Centralized government decisions on production and distribution.


Predominantly private ownership.
Mostly government ownership of resources.

Role of Government

Limited to regulation and protection.
Direct control over economic activities.

Economic Adjustment

Responsive to market signals like prices.
Adjustments are bureaucratic and centrally planned.

Innovation & Efficiency

Encouraged through competition and consumer choice.
Often hindered by lack of market forces and incentives.

Market Economy and Command Economy Definitions

Market Economy

A market economy is a system where prices are determined by free market forces.
In a market economy, the price of goods is dictated by consumer demand.

Command Economy

A command economy dictates the allocation of resources and distribution of goods.
In a command economy, the government sets prices and production levels.

Market Economy

A market economy emphasizes voluntary exchanges in a free market.
Small businesses flourish in a market economy due to the freedom of trade.

Command Economy

A command economy aims for equitable distribution and elimination of unemployment.
A command economy may provide universal employment but lacks efficiency.

Market Economy

A market economy is characterized by private property rights and freedom of enterprise.
The market economy allows entrepreneurs to own and grow their businesses.

Command Economy

A command economy is a system where the government controls economic activity.
In a command economy, the government decides what goods should be produced.

Market Economy

A market economy promotes consumer choice and competition among firms.
In a market economy, consumers have a wide variety of products to choose from.

Command Economy

A command economy centralizes economic decision-making in the government.
The former Soviet Union's command economy was characterized by centralized planning.

Market Economy

A market economy is based on supply and demand with minimal government intervention.
The United States' economy thrives on a market system encouraging business competition.

Command Economy

A command economy often involves state ownership of resources and production.
In a command economy, major industries are typically owned and operated by the state.


What drives a market economy?

Supply, demand, and competition drive a market economy.

Can private businesses thrive in a command economy?

Private businesses often face restrictions in a command economy.

How does a command economy control prices?

Prices in a command economy are controlled by the government.

Can a market economy lead to income inequality?

Yes, income inequality can be a byproduct of a market economy.

How does a command economy affect consumer choice?

Consumer choice is limited in a command economy due to government control.

What role does competition play in a market economy?

Competition in a market economy drives innovation and efficiency.

Who makes economic decisions in a command economy?

The government makes economic decisions in a command economy.

What is the government's role in a market economy?

The government regulates and protects the market in a market economy.

Are market economies more efficient than command economies?

Market economies are generally more efficient due to competition.

Do command economies adapt quickly to changes?

Command economies often struggle with quick adaptations.

How do market economies foster innovation?

Innovation is encouraged by competition and consumer demand in market economies.

Does a command economy ensure employment?

A command economy often aims for full employment, though it may not be efficient.

Can a market economy have social welfare programs?

Yes, social welfare can exist in a market economy.

How are resources allocated in a market economy?

Resources are allocated based on market demand in a market economy.

How does a command economy distribute goods?

Goods are distributed as per government plans in a command economy.

Can a command economy be efficient?

Efficiency in command economies is often compromised by lack of market signals.

Are command economies common today?

Command economies are less common in the current global landscape.

What are the challenges of a command economy?

Inefficiency and lack of consumer choice are challenges in command economies.

How are prices set in a market economy?

Prices in a market economy are set by supply and demand.

How does a market economy impact small businesses?

A market economy often provides opportunities for small businesses.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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