What is one way a market economy affects the lives of private citizens? A market economy is a system of production and distribution based on supply and demand, which determines the prices of goods and services. It is the world’s most widely used economic model today, allowing for greater freedom of choice and negotiation between buyers and sellers. But how does a market economy affect the lives of private citizens?
What is a Market Economy?
A market economy is one where economic decisions and the pricing of goods and services are guided by the interactions between consumers and producers in the marketplace. This type of economy contrasts with a planned economy, where decisions regarding production and distribution are made by central planners.
In a market economy, private citizens make most of the economic decisions. They decide what to produce, how to produce it, and who to sell it to; the producers must respond to the demands of consumers in order to make a profit. If they do not, they will go out of business. In this way, market economies are “consumer-driven.”
What is one way a market economy affects the lives of private citizens?
A market economy can affect the lives of private citizens by giving them choices and freedom to buy what they want, sell what they want, and choose the jobs they want. This freedom is not available in a command economy where there is heavy regulation by a socialist or communist government.
Other ways through which the lives of citizens can be affected in a market economy would be discussed in the following sections; I will look at both the positive and negative ways through which this type of economic system can affect its citizens.
Negative ways through which a market economy affects the lives of private citizens
- Increased risk of business failure
- Exploitation of workers
A market economy can negatively affect the lives of private citizens by causing inequality. Since some people have access to more resources than others, it results in an unequal distribution of wealth. In addition, certain social and economic conditions can create disparities between different economic classes as those with greater economic means may be able to access better education or healthcare than those with less money.
Again, market economies tend to favor those who own businesses or have a large amount of capital, while those with fewer resources may not have the same opportunities for success. Even within businesses, the inequality may give rise to monopolies that prevent smaller companies from rising or even competing with the bigger ones.
Increased risk of business failure
Businesses face increased competition from other businesses in a market economy; other factors such as changing consumer tastes may negatively affect businesses as well. The competition can put pressure on businesses to produce more for less, resulting in lower profit margins and increased costs.
In order to remain in business, companies must constantly adjust their strategies to remain competitive and may fail to do so successfully.
The above circumstances may occur in market economies and when these occur, the market may fail when there are no government regulations. Therefore, the lack of government regulations or subsidies in market economies increases the risk of business failure when businesses face challenges beyond their control.
Exploitation of workers
Because there is freedom in a market economy to employ whoever a business needs and also negotiate their payments of wages and salaries, workers are sometimes exploited by the business owners in order to increase their profit.
Workers in a market economy may be exploited through inadequate wages, limited access to benefits, and unfair working conditions. They may also face discrimination or exploitation due to their race, gender, age, physical abilities, or other factors.
All these occur because the business wants to make more profit at the detriment of its citizens who may be subjected to unsafe working conditions or not be provided with adequate safety equipment. Workers may also be subjected to long hours of work with no overtime pay or breaks. This way, a command economy negatively affects the lives of private citizens.
Positive ways through which a market economy affects the lives of private citizens
- Creation of jobs
- It provides economic freedom to own private property, resources, and businesses
- Increases productivity
Creation of jobs
A market economy can create jobs and spur economic growth. This happens through competition amongst producers/manufacturers. Because a market economy rewards innovation, businesses are encouraged to produce cheaper and better quality products that consumers will prefer. In order not to be outpaced by a competitor, a firm must innovate to increase its market share so as to remain in business and make more profits. To achieve its goals and satisfy the demands of the consumers, a company must employ more people in order to increase supply and meet the demands of the consumers.
Through this competition and innovation, more jobs are eventually created in a market economy, because it rewards productivity.
A great benefit of a market economy to its citizens is the freedom to own private property; not only does it give the right to own property, but also protects the ownership of private property through the court system and law enforcement like the police. Individuals have the right to own and control their own resources and are free to decide what goods and services they will produce, how much they will produce, and at what price.
They can also use their resources as they see fit by investing in businesses, land, or other assets. This freedom gives individuals the opportunity to create wealth and pursue their own economic goals.
Increases economic productivity
Since competition exists in a market economy, businesses are forced to be innovative in order to beat their competitors and satisfy the consumers. This means that companies would want to employ the best brains in order to create innovative products at cheaper prices. To achieve this, merit and competence must be used in employing workers.
Since the businesses do all they can to increase the market share, the workers as well do all they can to improve their skills in order to earn higher wages or even get employed. The overall effect of this is an increase in the productivity of the economy. This is quite opposite in a command economy where there is no motivation to be productive.
In which system do private individuals have the most impact on the economy?
In a market economy, private individuals have the most impact on the economy through their buying and selling decisions. This is in contrast to what happens in a command economy, where the government has more control over the economy and the citizens have no choice but to align with the goals of the government. Because citizens have the freedom of buying and selling in a market economy, they can influence the economy through their shopping choices and investment decisions, as well as having more control over their own work lives. This means people can choose what jobs to do and how much to work. In a command economy, the government makes these decisions.
Nansel is a serial entrepreneur and financial expert with 7+ years as a business analyst. He has a liking for marketing which he regards as an important part of business success.
He lives in Plateau State, Nigeria with his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Anael.