A mixed economy
is defined as an economic system consisting of a mixture of either markets and economic planning, public ownership and private ownership, or markets and economic interventionism. However, in most cases, "mixed economy" refers to market economies with strong regulatory oversight and governmental provision of public goods, although some mixed economies also feature a number of state-run enterprises.
In general the mixed economy is characterised by the private ownership of the means of production, the dominance of markets for economic coordination, with profit-seeking enterprise and the accumulation of capital remaining the fundamental driving force behind economic activity. But unlike a free-market
economy, the government would wield indirect macroeconomic influence over the economy through fiscal and monetary policies designed to counteract economic downturns and capitalism's tendency toward financial crises, unemployment, and growing income and wealth disparities, along with playing a role in interventions that promote social welfare
. Subsequently, some mixed economies have expanded in scope to include a role for indicative economic planning and/or large public enterprise
In reference to post-war Western and Northern European economic models, as championed by Christian democrats and social democrats, the mixed economy is defined as a form of capitalism where most industries are privately owned with only a minority of public utilities
and essential services
under public ownership. In the post-war era, European social democracy became associated with this economic model.
Economies ranging from the United States to Cuba have been catalogued as mixed economies. The term is also used to describe the economies of countries which are referred to as welfare states, such as the Nordic countries. Governments in mixed economies often provide environmental protection
, maintenance of employment standards, a standardized welfare system, and maintenance of competition.
As an economic ideal, mixed economies are supported by people of various political persuasions, typically centre-left and centre-right, such as social democrats or Christian democrats. Supporters view mixed economies as a compromise between state socialism and free-market capitalism that is superior in net effect to either of those.