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Socialism and Free-Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project

Letter from the Editors
by Scott W. Atlas and Edward P. Lazear

With this program, scholars at the Hoover Institution are launching a program designed to evaluate free-market capitalism, socialism, and hybrid systems to determine how well the various governmental and economic forms promote general well-being and prosperity. The project is particularly important and timely, given recent interest in policies that are radical from a US historical perspective, some of which are advocated by political leaders and presidential candidates.

Free-market capitalism with private ownership and market-determined allocation of goods and services is often credited with generating economic growth and high average income, but its critics argue that a market-based economy creates significant inequality and does not help the poor enough. Socialism and its variants, which couple government ownership of much of the means of production with substantial centrally determined allocation, is championed as being more benevolent than free-market capitalism.

The goal of this project is to provide objective and scholarly analyses of free-market capitalism, socialism, and hybrid systems and to provide evidence on the effectiveness of the various systems on outcomes that affect prosperity and well-being. The papers will be written by renowned experts in their specific topics and will be released periodically over the next years. The broad range of issues will include strictly economic subjects, like the impact of economic form on incomes and economic growth; important social goals, like providing broad access to quality medical care, maintaining a just and sensible immigration policy, and sustaining our environment with rational priorities; and political consequences of these systems, like ensuring individual liberty and freedom, enhancing strategic relations with other countries, and promoting long-term peace.

It is our hope that both the scope and quality of the research will shed light on how the choice of government and economic structure affects the overall quality of life.

Click here to visit the Human Prosperity Project at the Hoover Institution.