Difference Between Capitalism and Free Market - Ask Any Difference

Difference Between Capitalism and Free Market

Capitalism and free markets are economic models in which supply and demand are the primary determinants of pricing and supply of goods and services. Even though they regularly coexist and are founded on the principles of supply and demand, capitalism and the free market are not quite the same economic models. They do, however, differ in their real meanings.

Capitalism vs Free Market

The main difference between Capitalism and Free Market is that Capitalism stands for the accumulation of money and the possession of capital, output, and distribution, meanwhile a free-market system is one in which voluntary exchange and the laws of supply and demand serve as the main ground for the market structure, without any government interference.

Capitalism and Free Market

Capitalism refers to the development of property and the ownership of capital, as well as its manufacturing and distribution. Key characteristics of capitalism include individual property ownership, competitive markets, and personal incentives. Freedom of exchange is another fundamental element of capitalism. In a capitalistic economy, everyone has the right to engage in or refrain from engaging in transactions.

Free Market economy is governed purely by buyer and seller demand and supply, with next to no government intervention. Consumers obtain what they really want because vendors compete to meet their demands at the pricing they want, as organizations compete for the best workers, those with the finest talents should earn the highest compensation.

Comparison Table Between Capitalism and Free Market

Parameters of ComparisonCapitalismFree market
MeaningAn economic system in which private owners run a country’s trade and industry for profit.An economy that is governed purely by buyer and seller demand and supply, with hardly any government intervention.
FocusConcerned with the generating of wealth as well as the holding of capital and manufacturing instruments.Engaged with the exchange of wealth, which includes goods and services.
AdvantagesEconomic efficiency, customer choice, and economic progress and advancementThe invention, lower production costs, and the absence of state-mandated monopoly
CriticismPossibility of a powerful monopoly, unequal distribution, recession, and underemploymentOften not achievable, labor abuses, and a restricted product selection
ExampleMicrosoft, Apple, pharmaceutical firmsThe United States of America, Hong Kong’s economy

What is Capitalism?

Capitalism is a frequently used economic ideology in which the mode of production is privately owned. Capitalism as a market structure may be traced back to the 16th century.

Current capitalist methods generally have included a market-oriented economy wherein economic forces culminating from connections between corporate firms and people determine the manufacturing and cost structure of products, as well as personal income, to a larger extent than centralized planning initiated by a state or public institution. The ideals of personal land, profit incentive, and market competition underpin capitalism.

Profits are inextricably linked to the notion of private property. Individuals only engage in voluntary exchanges of private property when they feel the trade will benefit them in some mental or material sense. In such transactions, each participant derives additional intangible value, or gain, from the exchange.

Willing commerce is the driving force behind activities in a capitalist environment. A capitalist maximizes profit by making the most productive use of capital assets while creating the highest-value commodity or service.

In this system, information regarding what is most valuable is communicated through the pricing at which the other user willingly acquires the capitalist’s commodity or service. Profits indicate that less valued inputs were converted into more desirable outputs.

Capitalists, on the other hand, incur losses when capital resources are not utilized adequately and instead produce fewer desirable outputs.

What is Free Market?

The free market is an economic framework for producers and consumers that is governed by very little government intervention. It is a synopsis of all voluntary trades that occur in a particular economic context. People actually make economic decisions in free marketplaces through an unplanned and decentralized sequence of arrangements.

A country’s free-market system can range from very vast to completely illegal, depending on its political and legal norms. The word “free market” is occasionally used interchangeably with “laissez-faire capitalism.”

Most people understand the term “free market” to refer to a sector with unrestricted competition and solely private sales between sellers and buyers. A broader definition, on the other hand, should cover any free economic activity that is not controlled by a coercive central authority.

Hardly a developed nation has entirely unrestricted free markets. However, countries with the most open markets tend to be those that respect private property, capitalism, and individual rights.

Threats of coercion are used to restrain the free market in all cases, whether explicit or implicit. Specific exchange prohibitions, taxation, regulatory requirements, demands on precise terms within an interaction, licensing laws, exchange rate changes, competition from explicit services provided, wage controls, and quotas on manufacturing, purchases of products, or employee hiring are typical examples.

When free market activity is regulated, the scope of the free market is limited but not fully destroyed, and voluntary trades can still occur within the framework of government restrictions.

Main Differences Between Capitalism and Free Market

  1. Capitalism is an economic system wherein a country’s commerce and industries are managed for profit by private landowners rather than just the state, meanwhile the free market is an economic model wherein prices are decided by unrestrained competition among privately held enterprises.
  2. Capitalism is concerned with the generation of wealth and the possession of capital and tools of production, whereas the free market is concerned with the interchange of wealth, or commodities and services.
  3. In Capitalism individuals pick what they purchase, leading to greater rivalry and better products and services, as well as economic productivity, whereas the perks of a free-market economy include innovation, cheaper price of production, ease of beginning a firm, and open competition.
  4. In terms of drawbacks Capitalism is notorious for inequity and social separation. Whereas a free market in the actual world is not always achievable, the consequence might include a lack of consumer rights, environmental abuses, and restricted product variety.
  5. There are numerous instances of capitalism in daily life, such as Wall Street and the stock market, pharmaceutical firms, and technological innovations made by companies such as Microsoft. As an example of a free market economy, the United States is one of the world’s largest.


Capitalism is associated with specific ownership of elements of industry such as labor, capital, and private land. A free-market economic system is one in which the community does not intentionally limit any trades.

In other words, individuals are welcome to exercise their right to trade, which comes with ownership. The right to trade is the only thing that unites capitalism and free markets.  A country can be capitalist but still not possess free markets; it can limit trade rights for some trades while preserving all other rights afforded by ownership.

A society can practice free markets while not being totally capitalist because it can broaden the ability to trade without empowering people with ownership rights. Other rights may be granted to groups of persons. Finally, a society can combine the two until it finds a blend that is acceptable to the majority of its members.


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