What is Prohibited in a Command Economy? Check All That Apply.

BY Jaber Posted August 10, 2023 Update August 14, 2023
What is Prohibited in a Command Economy? Check All That Apply.

Explore the regulations of command economies, understand what's prohibited, and how these rules affect individuals and businesses. Learn more now.

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A command economy is an economic system where the government or a central authority exercises significant control over the allocation of resources and the means of production. Unlike a market economy driven by supply and demand, a command economy operates based on centralized planning and decision-making. In such a system, certain activities and practices that are allowed or encouraged in other economic systems are prohibited or heavily regulated. Let's delve into the specific aspects that are restricted in a command economy.

Definition of a Command Economy

In a command economy, the government plays a dominant role in determining what goods and services are produced, how they are produced, and how they are distributed. The primary objective of a command economy is to achieve social and economic goals set by the government. To attain this, certain practices and freedoms associated with market economies are restricted or entirely prohibited.

Prohibition of Private Ownership

One of the fundamental restrictions in a command economy is the prohibition of private ownership of key resources and means of production. In such an economic system, individual property rights are limited or abolished altogether. This means that individuals cannot own land, factories, or businesses. Instead, these assets are owned and controlled by the state or the collective.

Lack of Individual Property Rights

In a command economy, individuals do not have the right to own property, making it impossible for them to accumulate wealth through property ownership. This restriction limits economic freedom and hinders the potential for personal and entrepreneurial development.

State Control of Means of Production

Command economies aim to ensure that resources are allocated according to the state's priorities and goals. Consequently, the state exerts strict control over the means of production, including factories, machinery, and other productive assets. This control limits the ability of individuals to engage in economic activities independently.

Central Planning and Allocation

In a command economy, economic decisions are primarily made by central planning authorities rather than market forces. The state determines what and how much is produced, as well as how resources are allocated. This central planning approach can lead to significant restrictions in economic activities.

Absence of Market Forces

Unlike market economies where prices and resource allocation are influenced by supply and demand, command economies lack the presence of market forces. The government sets production targets and determines the allocation of resources based on its central planning objectives. Consequently, the role of market competition is greatly diminished or entirely absent.

Government Control of Resource Distribution

In a command economy, the government controls the distribution of resources, which can result in limited access to essential goods and services. The central planning authorities decide how resources are allocated and distributed among various sectors and regions, often prioritizing industries deemed crucial to the state's interests.

Limited Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Command economies often impose restrictions on entrepreneurship and innovation, hindering the development of new businesses and stifling creativity and problem-solving.

Restriction of Business Start-ups

In a command economy, starting a business or engaging in entrepreneurial activities can be challenging and heavily regulated. The state exercises control over the establishment and operation of enterprises, making it difficult for individuals to pursue their business ideas independently.

Inhibition of Creative Solutions

Command economies rely on centralized decision-making, which can discourage or suppress the implementation of creative and innovative solutions. The absence of market mechanisms and competition reduces incentives for individuals to come up with novel approaches to problem-solving and product development.

Price Control and Rationing

In a command economy, the government often enforces price controls and implements rationing measures to regulate the distribution of goods and services. These practices aim to achieve social and economic objectives but can have adverse effects.

Fixed Prices and Subsidies

Command economies frequently employ fixed prices for essential goods and services. The government sets these prices to ensure affordability and access for the general population. Additionally, subsidies may be provided to keep prices artificially low, especially for items considered necessities.

Rationing and Shortages

Rationing is a common practice in command economies to ensure the equitable distribution of limited resources. However, it can lead to shortages and restricted availability of certain goods. Rationing systems often prioritize specific groups or sectors, leading to unequal access to essential items.

Restricted Consumer Choice

Command economies typically offer limited variety and choice of products compared to market economies. The state determines what goods and services are produced, resulting in a narrower range of options available to consumers.

Limited Variety of Products

The central planning authorities in a command economy focus on producing goods and services that align with their predetermined goals. Consequently, the diversity and variety of products available in the market are limited compared to market economies where consumer demand shapes production decisions.

Lack of Market Competition

Competition plays a crucial role in driving innovation, improving product quality, and reducing prices. However, in a command economy, the absence of market competition hampers the incentives for businesses to innovate and offer better products and services. This lack of competition can lead to stagnation and inefficiency.

Suppression of Free Speech and Information

Command economies often suppress free speech and control the flow of information to maintain centralized control and prevent dissent or opposition.

State Censorship and Propaganda

In a command economy, the state exercises control over the media and can censor information that goes against its agenda. This censorship prevents the dissemination of diverse viewpoints and restricts access to independent sources of information.

Control over Media and Communication

The government's control over media and communication channels allows it to shape public opinion and control the narrative. This control limits access to unbiased information and hinders the development of an informed citizenry.

Lack of Individual Economic Freedom

In a command economy, individuals have limited economic freedom, including restricted employment options and constraints on financial decision-making.

Limited Employment Options

The state determines employment opportunities in a command economy, often leading to limited choices for individuals. The lack of a diverse job market can restrict personal growth and career development.

Constraints on Financial Decision-making

Individuals in a command economy have limited control over their financial decisions. The state may impose strict regulations on savings, investments, and monetary transactions, limiting the ability to manage personal finances autonomously.

Consequences of Prohibition in a Command Economy

The restrictions and prohibitions in a command economy have several consequences that impact both individuals and society as a whole.

Economic Inefficiency

The lack of market mechanisms, competition, and incentives for innovation can lead to inefficiencies in resource allocation and production. Command economies often struggle to adapt to changing circumstances and technological advancements, resulting in economic stagnation.

Reduced Quality of Life

The limitations on individual freedoms, constrained access to goods and services, and lack of economic opportunities can contribute to a reduced quality of life in a command economy. The absence of choice and limited personal agency can hinder personal fulfillment and well-being.


In a command economy, numerous activities and practices that are allowed or encouraged in other economic systems are prohibited or heavily regulated. The restrictions on private ownership, central planning, entrepreneurship, consumer choice, and free speech have profound implications for individuals and society. While command economies aim to achieve specific social and economic goals, they often come at the expense of individual freedoms, economic efficiency, and overall quality of life.


Can a command economy be successful in the long term?

A command economy may achieve short-term goals or specific objectives set by the state, but its long-term sustainability and adaptability have been a subject of debate. The lack of market mechanisms, incentives, and the absence of individual economic freedoms can hamper long-term economic growth and innovation.

Are there any countries that currently practice a command economy?

Some countries have elements of a command economy, but pure command economies are rare in today's world. Examples of countries with significant state control over the economy include North Korea and Cuba.

How does a command economy differ from a market economy?

In a market economy, decisions about what to produce, how to produce, and how resources are allocated are primarily driven by market forces, supply, and demand. In contrast, a command economy relies on central planning and government control to make these decisions.

Can a command economy achieve income equality?

While a command economy can theoretically aim to reduce income inequality, achieving true equality is challenging. Command economies often face issues such as corruption, inefficiency, and limited incentives for individuals to work harder or take risks, which can hinder income distribution.

Are there any advantages to a command economy?

Command economies can have advantages in terms of centralized decision-making, the ability to prioritize social goals, and a more equitable distribution of resources. However, these advantages need to be weighed against the limitations on individual freedoms and potential economic inefficiencies.

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