Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Social market economy

Social Market Economy

Guarantor of Sustainable Prosperity for All

The social market economy is not designed to be a ready-made system, nor a recipe that, once created, can be used in the same way for all time. It is an evolutionary order, in which, besides the fixed basic principle that everything needs to be implemented in the framework of a free order, it is always necessary to set new tones according to the requirements of a changing time.

Alfred Müller-Armack, National Economist and Cultural Sociologist, 1956
Please click here to view the contents.
Or adjust your cookie settings under privacy policy.

What is the social market economy?

The explanatory film shows the basic principles according to which our economic and social order in Germany functions.

YouTube, Onlinekas

The social market economy was introduced by the first Federal Minister of Economics, Ludwig Erhard, as an economic policy concept upon founding the Federal Republic of Germany. Hence, the social market economy is inextricably linked to the German success story following the Second World War, and has proven, time and again, to be a successful, stable and adaptable economic and social order.

 

Our Economic and Social Order Combines Economic Freedom with Social Balance

People, their freedom and individual responsibility lie at the centre of the social market economy. From the outset, the economic concept geared towards balance has aimed to reconcile freedom and competition, social security and labour force participation, as well as a high and growing level of prosperity.

The founding fathers of social market economy were shaped by preceding discussions of Christian social teaching and Protestant social ethics; they had their sights set on the preservation of creation. Thus, the social market economy has been the bracket that holds together the principle of economic freedom with the doctrine of social balance and ecology: Recently, these goals have been discussed under the term “sustainability”.

 

The Spotlight Is on Individual Responsibility; State Actions Are Deliberately Curtailed

Not least in times of transformation, the role played by the state is central. In the concept of social market economy, the state assumes the role of framework provider and rule maker. The state sets the framework in which freedom and individual responsibility are to unfold. At the same time, state action needs to be aware of its limits. After all, competition is a key component of the social market economy – not least so that innovations can give rise to competitive advantage and prosperity for all.

 

Current Challenges Require Adaptability and Flexibility of the State Regulatory Framework

As a liberal economic and social order, one of the many strengths of the social market economy is that it is a pragmatic model. Its regulatory principles and Christian Democratic values are timeless. However, the state regulatory framework must be constantly adapted to current challenges on the basis of these principles and values. This also, and in particular, applies to contemporary challenges such as climate change and digitalisation.

Even if the social market economy was unable to take account of current challenges at the time of its development and introduction, specific and good solutions can be derived based on its values and principles. This is illustrated by the example of climate change: Experts largely concur that for climate protection goals to be achieved, greenhouse gas emissions need to be subject to a pricing system.

This approach stands on the pillars of the social market economy: Early on, Walter Eucken foresaw the internalisation of external effects – i.e., also greenhouse gas emissions – into the price mechanism in the regulating principle of economic accounting. The specific design of this approach – such as pricing via emissions trading or a CO2 tax – is part of a social process of negotiation that takes economic, ecological, and social aspects into account.

 

We Want to Discuss Future Issues and Help Shape the Social Market Economy

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is convinced that: The social market economy has proven itself over decades. Today, it is still the right concept for providing regulatory guidance even in a world of upheaval.

In doing so, we want to ask ourselves challenging questions: How can the concept of social market economy be made sustainable? How can we shape the transformation towards digitalisation and sustainability in a way that is meaningful for economic policy and compatible with social policy? How do rules on competition have been aligned with digital platforms and intellectual property without impeding innovation? Despite all this, how are explicit and implicit state budgets to be made sustainable and thus fair for all generations?

We would like to help shape the social market economy based on its regulatory principles and Christian Democratic values. In Germany and abroad, we work to promote a social market economy. This page gives you an overview of our diverse projects and activities in Germany and abroad.


Event Series

Social market economy as a guarantor of the prosperity of our country’s economy has always been a special concern for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, as also reflected in the abundance of different events on this topic. Here it is particularly worth mentioning our annual Ludwig-Erhard Colloquium, with which

Ludwig-Erhard Colloquium

Ludwig Erhard KAS/Peter Bouserath

 

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the Ludwig Erhard-Stiftung jointly organise and host the Ludwig Erhard Colloquium. The goal of the expert discussion, which is also devoted to commemorating the first Economics Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, is to contribute to the modernisation and adaptation of the social market economy to challenges of the 21st century by connecting aspects of economic history with current regulatory policy debates.

 

Learn more about the Ludwig-Erhard-Colloquium


 

Prizes and Awards

Since 2002, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has been awarding the Social Market Economy Prize to personalities committed to the realisation, preservation and further development of social market economy. The award-winners are nominated by a jury consisting of renowned members and confirmed by the Stiftung’s Board of Directors.

Social Market Economy Prize

Medaille Verleihung Preis Soziale Marktwirtschaft KAS

 

With the Social Market Economy Prize, we honour outstanding achievements by people in the spirit of social market economy. Behaviour and actions are regarded to be an important aspect in this context. Above all, those who have been a role model for autonomy or individual responsibility or contributed towards social justice in our economic and social order, may be considered as a candidate for the award.

 

Find out more about the Social Market Economy Prize


 

Scholarship and Didactic Offers

For doctoral candidates, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung offers the interdisciplinary “Social Market Economy” doctoral programme. In our learning laboratory, the Adenauer Campus, teachers and pupils can find teaching material and exercises for the classroom, which are divided into several learning modules.

“Social Market Economy” Doctoral Programme

Logo Promotionskolleg Soziale Marktwirtschaft

 

Doctoral candidates with a topic related to the social market economy, can apply for the “Social Market Economy” doctoral programme. The programme is interdisciplinary, which means that doctoral candidates from other disciplines can apply in addition to economists. The goal of the programme is to make a significant scientific contribution to understanding and developing the social market economy through relevant dissertations.

 

Learn more about the “Social Market Economy” doctoral programme

Didactic Teaching Material for the Classroom

Adenauer Campus fotolia Urheber: sp4764

 

In the learning lab of our Adenauer Campus, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s digital learning platform, you will find teaching materials and classroom exercises on the topic of social market economy. We invite teachers, those interested in politics and pupils alike, in order to take a closer look at our interactive and free didactic offers.

 

Learn more about the Adenauer Campus learning lab


 

Founding Fathers

Who is responsible for the economic and socio-economic concepts of the social market economy? Who pioneered and provided an impetus for the economic policy model that still forms the basis of German economic and social order to this day, and who played a decisive role in its political implementation? Find our more about some of the leading and most important minds behind the basic concepts of the social market economy.

Masterminds of the Social Market Economy at a Glance

Gründerväter der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft

According to the understanding of the founding fathers, the social market economy is based on a competitive order, whose constituent principles are the guarantee of private property, liability rules, freedom of contract and trade, monetary stability, open market access as well as a long-term, reliable and principled economic policy. It is the duty of the state in a social market economy to adjust the institutional framework such that individual economic activity does not come into resistance with social purposes and the freedom of others.


 

Ludwig Erhard

“An essential part of a positive family policy is to afford our youth – regardless of the income and wealth of their parents – equal life and development opportunities through equal educational opportunities at the various levels, depending on their interests and talents.

Ludwig Erhard, as one of the founders of the social market economy, ranks among the pre-eminent liberal-democratic reformers of the 20th century. He used the economic and currency reform of 1948 to lay the foundations of social and economic order in the Federal Republic of Germany. (© Photo: KAS / Slomifoto)

Learn more in the biography


 

Alfred Müller-Armack

If we successfully implement a social market economy in Europe, we must at the same time transfer the social responsibility that we experience at home, and for which we have found solutions according to human standards, to the other countries.”

Alfred Müller-Armack is considered the intellectual father of the social market economy. The national economist and sociologist understood the concept, decisively coined by him, above all as a peace-making balance between economic freedom and social responsibility. (© Photo: ACDP)

Learn more in the biography


 

Walter Eucken

It has been shown that the distribution of the social product through price mechanics […] is better than distribution owing to arbitrary decisions by private or public bodies of power. […] Yet even this distribution mechanism leaves questions open, and needs to be corrected. […] The inequality of income already leads to the production of luxuries when urgent needs of low-income households still demand satisfaction. Here, distribution that takes place in the competitive order, needs correction.”

Despite his work, Walter Eucken has been largely forgotten by the public today. The Freiburg economist had developed essential theoretical principles of the social market economy in rejection of the National Socialist economic control. (© Photo: KAS / picture archive)

Learn more in the biography


 

Franz Böhm

If there is no or insufficient competition, then the constitutionally intended steering power of market prices will be impaired. Goods production and distribution are directed in an unintended direction. Yet this misguided steering of economic cooperation is not even the decisive factor. Even more serious is the disruption to the social justice content of a free market system.”

Franz Böhm was one of the co-founders of the Freiburg School of National Economics and pioneers of the social market economy. He had already been working on the concept of our present economic order since 1933, which he helped to implement as a member of the Academic Advisory Board at the Administration for Economics, at the Federal Ministry of Economics and as a Member of the Bundestag. (© Photo: n. n.)

Learn more in the biography


 

Wilhelm Röpke

Nowadays, a strong state is not, however, one which interferes in everything and plays a overly dominant role. On the contrary, it is not an interference in everything, but rather the independence from interest groups and unrelenting enforcement of its authority and dignity as the representative of the general public that characterise a truly strong state.”

Wilhelm Röpke ranked among the most important pioneers of the social market economy. The economist identified the development towards a bipolar world order from an early stage. He promoted the later Federal Republic’s alignment with the West, which he saw as a guarantee for a liberal state and against the threat of totalitarian communism. (© Photo: SZ-Photo)

Learn more in the biography


Single title
September 10, 2019
read now
The Political Opinion
July 30, 2021
read now

Publications to the topic

SGR Cover
Społeczna Gospodarka Rynkowa – ustrojowa przyszłość
Biblioteka myśli ekonomicznej Polskiego Towarzystwa Ekonomicznego
Enquête sur la perception des services digitali sés de ladministration publique 260922_Page_01
Perception des entreprises privées des services digitalisés de l’administration publique tunisienne?
Plus de 80% des entreprises considèrent que l’administration publique est une barrière au développement des PME.
WTO Seeseite KAS Genf
Geneva Telegram – WTO gives clear life sign at Ministerial Conference
The "Geneva Telegram" explores events in Geneva-based multilateral organisations on a current topic. This time, the focus is on the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Or...
Beitrag Klöckner Gestaltung: StanHema
Wie den Wohlstand wahren?
Die Soziale Marktwirtschaft braucht neue Entscheidungen
Dietsche/Schäfer Gestaltung: StanHema
Der Heureka-Moment
Über die Erfindung der „Sozialen Marktwirtschaft“ vor 75 Jahren
Kas.de
Proposals about the WTO Working Programme on Electronic Commerce (incl. "E-Commerce Moratorium")
Map of the Month 06/2022
Indice de economia social del mercado latam
Social Market Economy Index (ESMA) Latin America, Application of ESMA principles in the region
Publication
Cover photo of
The Smiling Dragon
China’s Soft Power in Southeast Asia – Implications for Germany and the EU
Matthias Zimmer StanHema (Gestaltung)
Kapitalismuskritik gestern und heute
Zum 75. Jahrestag des Ahlener Programms
Bildkomposition zur Sozialen Marktwirtschaft: Ein Windrad hinter einem Solarpanel und Bäckereiangestellte in der Backstube Fotomontage mit Material von kurmanphotos / flickr / CC BY 2.0 / creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ und bby_ / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0 / creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
Die Soziale Marktwirtschaft ist aktueller denn je
2022 ist ein Jubiläumsjahr der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft
Ludwig Erhard liest das Buch United Archives/Unknown/Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo
Ludwig Erhard: Seine Bedeutung für die Wirtschaftsgeschichte Deutschlands seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg
imagen Opciones para la convergencia entre la alianza del pacifico y MERCOSUR en facilitacion del comercio
Options for convergence between the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur
In trade facilitation
20211221_euflagge mittelgroß_neu
"Quo vadis Unio Europejska 27 państw?"
Unia Europejska wobec napięć wewnętrznych, kryzysu COVID i wyzwań zewnętrznych - perspektywa polska i niemiecka
raport_gdzie naprawde_titelbild_11 2021
"Unia Europejska się opłaca"
Najważniejsze gospodarcze korzyści członkostwa Polski w Unii Europejskiej
El rol de la union Europea en la convergencia entre la Alianza del Pacifico y el Mercosur
The role of the European Union in the convergence between the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur
Publication
Platzhalter_weiß2
Zukunftspotenzial Soziale Marktwirtschaft
Eine kluge Ordnungspolitik für Klimaschutz, Digitalisierung, Bildung und Demografie
Soziales Europa Headerbild iStock by Getty Images/pookpiik
Eine neue globale Steuerordnung - profitiert Deutschland davon?
Die Einführung einer globalen Mindeststeuer für große Konzerne sorgt für mehr Steuergerechtigkeit.
 Soziales Europa Headerbild iStock by Getty Images/Pusteflower9024
Grundsätze für ein soziales Europa
Argumente für und gegen die europäische Mindestlohn-Richtlinie
Gestapelte Container in einem Hafen. | © Håkan Dahlström / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Håkan Dahlström / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
No sign of deglobalisation
German companies eschew plans for sweeping changes to their procurement strategy
Ein Rückzahlpakt für den europ ischen Rettungsfonds NGEU istockphoto.com / Cunaplus_M.Faba
For a Stable Europe of Tomorrow
A Repayment Pact for the European Recovery Fund NGEU and pro-growth priority setting in response to the crisis

Event reports on the topic

Professor Dr. Joachim Fetzer (links) und Frederk Schmitt Thomas Ehlen / kas.de
Algorithmen entscheiden nicht - Unsere Zukunft mit Künstlicher Intelligenz
Eine Bilanz des Fuldaer Gesprächs 3. November 2022
Die Gäste der Zukunftswerkstatt: (v.l.n.r.) Andreas Noll, Journalist, Prof. Dr. Natacha Valla, Ökonomin und Dekanin der Sciences Po, Paris, Nikolas Záboji, Wirtschaftskorrespondent der FAZ, Paris Martin Reuber
Reichen die Maßnahmen gegen die steigende Inflation?
Ein deutsch-französisches Streitgespräch über die aktuellen Maßnahmen zur Bekämpfung des Kaufkraftverlustes
Geldentwertung
Inflation - Die stille Enteignung
Von Ursachen und Folgen der Inflation und ihrer Bekämpfung
Salomon Oppenheim jr. (1772–1828) Nachweis: Stiftung Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv zu Köln, RWWA 600-F419.
Salomon Oppenheim jr. (1772–1828) zum 250. Geburtstag
Veranstaltungsbericht
Dr. Feldmann im Gespräch mit Prof. Enste kas.de
Wachstum, Gerechtigkeit, Nachhaltigkeit: Tripolare Herausforderungen für die Soziale Marktwirtschaft
Eine Bilanz des 32. #HessenKAS Facebook-Live vom 05.04.2022
Podium Ingo Hellwig
Zukunftsgestalter als Mutmacher
Politik im Dialog mit Menschen, die etwas bewegt haben
Digitale Podiumsdiskussion mit Minister Karl-Josef Laumann und Prof. Dr. Ursula Nothelle-Wildfeuer
"Christliche Demokratie bedeutet Chancen eröffnen"
Digitale Diskussionsveranstaltung mit Minister Karl-Josef Laumann
220209_Podium Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.
Nachhaltige Finanzpolitik - Maß und Mitte einhalten
Zukunftsland NRW
Was Ludwig Erhard uns heute noch zu sagen hat KAS Bremen
Was Ludwig Erhard uns heute noch zu sagen hat
Online-Abendveranstaltung mit Roland Koch und Ursula Weidenfeld
Professor Dr. Niels Goldschmidt Professor Dr. Nils Goldschmidt
Wirtschaft für den Menschen: Welche Lehren wir aus der Krise ziehen
Eine Bilanz des Fuldaer Gesprächs 27. Oktober 2021
714390F1-5B5C-484A-A0BA-E4DC62BAE03C
Soziale Marktwirtschaft - Auslauf- oder Zukunftsmodell?
Veranstaltungsbericht: Seminar zum Thema "Soziale Marktwirtschaft" in der Villa La Collina, Cadenabbia
Elke Hannack KAS/Wadim Lisovenko
Über den Wert der Mitbestimmung in der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft
Bericht zur Veranstaltung vom 7. Oktober 2021
Preis Soziale Marktwirtschaft 2021 - Hildegard Müller Vorsitzende der Jury des KAS/Reimann-Grohs
Preis Soziale Marktwirtschaft 2021 verliehen
Jahrhundertealte Unternehmenstradition trifft auf moderne, gelebte Sozialpartnerschaft
Lange Nacht der Politik in Köln 2021 KAS
Lange Nacht der Politik in Köln
"Et bliev nix wie et wor."
Teamarbeit im Unternehmen Pixabay
Verantwortung wagen: Wie ist es als junger Nachfolger im Familienunternehmen?
Andreas Noll, Moderator, Dr. Jürgen Matthes, Institut der Wirtschaft Köln, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, ehemaliger Minister, Senator, Bürgermeister Martin Reuber
Was Europa jetzt braucht?
Zukunftswerkstatt zur Modernisierung der Wirtschaft in Europa aus deutscher und französischer Sicht
Einfamilienhaus Pixabay
(Aus) der Traum vom Eigenheim?
Die Debatte ums Wohnen aus familienpolitischer Perspektive
Kas.de
Markt und Staat - verlieren wir in der Pandemie die marktwirtschaftliche Orientierung?
foto kas
Fachkonferenz „Soziale Marktwirtschaft ökologisch erneuern“ Teil 3
Dormagener Gespräch
„Die Dinge sind auf dem Weg“
Digitales Dormagener Gespräch "Nachhaltig wirtschaften!" unter der Schirmherrschaft von Hermann Gröhe MdB

Media library

Preis Soziale Marktwirtschaft 2022
Sarna Röser erhält 2022 den "Preis Soziale Marktwirtschaft"
Sarna Röser, "eine starke Stimme der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft", die "diese in das 21. Jahrhundert" überträgt.
Podcast Erststimme #56
Internationaler Handel zwischen Effizienz, Nachhaltigkeit und Resilienz
Im Rahmen unserer Freihandelswoche sprechen wir mit Prof. Dr. Galina Kolev. #TradeofTomorrow
Wykład prof. dr. Georga Milbradta, TU Dresden
Wojna na Ukrainie i jej skutki dla gospodarki i konsekwencje dla polityki energetycznej dla Niemiec
Zapraszamy do wysłuchania bardzo ciekawego wykładu prof. dr. Milbradta z 29.09.22, wygłoszonego podczas polsko-niemieckiego seminarium "Społeczno-ekologiczna gospodarka rynkowa".
Podcast Erststimme #54
Klima muss sich lohnen
Wir sprechem mit Prof. Achim Wambach über die Instrumente des Marktes und der Sozialen Marktwirtschaft in der Energie- und Klimapolitk.
Assessement of Top500 Vietnamese Private Enterprises (VPE500)
Top500 Vietnamese private enterprises are analysed to provide policy implications to develop the private sector in Vietnam. The study is implemented by MPI think tank - NCIF
read now
Podcast Erststimme #51
Gekippt
Wir sprechen mit Prof. Dr. Nils Goldschmidt darüber, was wir tun können, wenn Systeme außer Kontrolle geraten.
Re-Live
Sozialkongress 2022: Teilhabe durch Innovation?
read now
Der Podcast über alles außer Corona
Erststimme #46: Blick in die KAS: Klima-Reader & Navigator Nachhaltigkeit
Diesmal geht es um zwei Projekte der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung selbst: Zum einen sprechen wir über den Klima-Reader, zum über den Navigator Nachhaltigkeit .
read now
Erststimme 2022 - Der Podcast für alles außer Corona
Dr. Anja Weisgerber: Welche Wege gibt es aus den Dilemmata der Umwelt- und Klimapolitik?
Wir sprechen darüber mit Frau Dr. Anja Weisgerber MdB über den umweltpolitischen Spannungsbogen zwischenn Ökonomie, Ökologie und sozialer Teilhabe.
read now
Forum Dialog +
Wojna w Europie i jej konsekwencje dla gospodarki
Debata o skutkach wojna dla dotkniętej kryzysem covidowym Europy odbyła się w ramach Forum Dialog +.