Past Program

May 09 - May 19, 1999

Costs and Benefits of the Free Market System

Session 367


The combined forces of globalization, democratization, technological change, and expanding market capitalism are redefining political, social, and economic dynamics around the world. In the post-Cold War era, governments are privatizing, liberalizing, and deregulating industries and services at unprecedented levels. Trillions of dollars in assets are being shifted from the public to the private sector as governments sell off state-owned heavy industry, telephone and railway systems, airlines, and postal services. As the private sector enters these new markets, and as it expands in an increasingly global economy, the world faces expanded potential for economic advancement but also increasingly urgent questions regarding social welfare. As global competition increases, employment patterns are also shifting and posing new challenges for labor markets worldwide.


This session will examine the unprecedented spread of free market values around the globe and identify the costs and benefits accompanying this phenomenon. How are the roles of government, business, and civil society evolving as we enter the 21st century? What kinds of social responsibilities are placed on business and civil society as they assume a greater role in providing for society’s needs? What services and responsibilities should be retained by governments, and how will they be paid for? And most important, how are these transformations affecting the lives of citizens and their relationship to government, business, and society as a whole?