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RESOURCE ALLOCATION: The process of dividing up and distributing available, limited resources to competing, alternative uses that satisfy unlimited wants and needs. Given that world is rampant with scarcity (unlimited wants and needs, but limited resources), every want and need cannot be satisfied with available resources. Choices have to be made. Some wants and needs are satisfied, some are not. These choices, these decisions are the resource allocation process. An efficient resource allocation exists if society has achieved the highest possible level of satisfaction of wants and needs from the available resources AND resources can not be allocated differently to achieve any greater satisfaction.

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COMMAND ECONOMY:

An economy in which the government uses its coercive powers to answer the three questions of allocation. This is the real world version of the idealized theoretical pure command economy. While in this real world version some allocation decisions are undertaken by markets, the vast majority are made through central planning.
A command economy is one in which government commands (directs, orders, or dictates) the vast majority of resource allocation decisions. The contrasting economic system is a market-oriented economy, in which resource allocation decisions are achieved primarily through voluntary market exchanges.

To achieve the allocation in absence of market exchanges, command economies make use of central planning. While central planning exists to some degree even in market-oriented capitalist economies, the level of detail needed in command economies is extensive. Every input, every output, every intermediate good, every worker, every resource is allocated based on a predetermined plan. Such planning is inherently less flexible and less efficient than markets.

The two most notable command economies of the 20th century were the communist/socialist economic systems of China and the Soviet Union. Other countries in eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America also had various forms of command economies during the mid- to late-1900s.

The philosophical basis of 20th century command economies can be found in the works of Karl Marx, including the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. These works presented the economic rationale for the decline of capitalism and the emergence of communism through the dictatorship of the proletariat, with an intermediate stage of socialism. While Marx's ultimate, utopian system of communism is totally devoid of government, the intermediate state of socialism involves extensive government control, hence a command economy. Soviet and Chinese political leaders and revolutionaries who adopted a communistic philosophy never quite made it past the intermediate socialistic, command economy stage.

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Recommended Citation:

COMMAND ECONOMY, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2020. [Accessed: October 20, 2020].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | pure command economy | central planning | market socialism | planned economy |


Or For A Little Background...

     | public sector | communism | socialism | economic system |


And For Further Study...

     | three questions of allocation | mixed economy | market-oriented economy | capitalism | economic goals | first estate | production possibilities | political views | distribution standards |


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