LAISSEZ FAIRE: Definition & What You Should Know

Laissez-Faire Policy
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Laissez-faire policy is a free-market, capitalist economic theory that rejects government intervention. The French Physiocrats, who lived in the 18th century, developed the laissez-faire theory. 

According to proponents of the laissez-faire policy, government intervention in markets and business activities hinders economic growth. Though critics have criticized it for promoting inequality, later free-market economists built on the ideas of laissez-faire as a route to economic prosperity. Critics contend that some level of governmental regulation and involvement in the market is necessary. 

Laissez Faire Definition.

According to the laissez-faire economics theory, the government should only interfere in the economy to uphold citizens’ unalienable rights. In other words, let the market operate as it sees fit. The laws of supply and demand will effectively regulate the production of goods and services if left unchecked.

A fundamental aspect of free-market capitalism is laissez-faire economics. This phrase refers to a political philosophy that opposes the use of government economic intervention. The theory holds that a country’s economy is at its best when the government completely abstains from interfering with it and allows free market forces to prevail.

In a laissez-faire system, the government’s responsibility is to safeguard individual rights rather than to in any way regulate business. When it comes to intervening in the economy, the phrase means “leave alone.” This Laissez-faire policy entails a lack of tariffs, rules, and taxes. The natural laws of supply and demand should have total freedom to govern the market instead.

History of Laissez-Faire

The laissez-faire policy, which gained popularity in the middle of the eighteenth century, is one of the earliest developed economic theories. The Physiocrats, a group that flourished in France from roughly 1756 to 1778, are credited with developing it. These intellectuals attempted to study wealth and economic production using scientific methods and principles. These “économistes,” as they called themselves, made the case that a free market and unrestricted economic competition were crucial to the well-being of a free society. 

Adam Smith, a later British economist, coined the term “invisible hand” to describe the natural, unchanging laws that govern market forces and economic processes. In all other cases, they should allow these laws to function freely. The only reason to involve the government in the affairs economy is to safeguard people’s property, lives, and freedoms.

Sadly, an initial attempt to test laissez-faire theories did not succeed. Turgot, Louis XVI’s Controller-General of Finances, abolished all restrictions on the tightly regulated grain market as an experiment in 1774, allowing imports and exports between provinces to function as a free trade system. However, when poor harvests led to shortages, prices skyrocketed. 

As a result, merchants had no option but to sell grain in high-profit locations, even outside of France, while tens of thousands of French people went hungry. Several months of rioting followed. The restoration of order and governmental oversight of the grain market occurred in the middle of 1775.

Despite this poor beginning, laissez-faire economic policy prevailed during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, further developed by British economists like Smith and David Ricardo. Additionally, it did lead to dangerous working conditions and widening wealth gaps, as its critics have pointed out.

Pros and Cons of Laissez-Faire


  • Business regulation by the government is viewed as ineffective and stifling.
  • promotes innovation and self-reliance
  • encourages free trade and competition


  • Consumers and the environment may suffer from a lack of regulations.
  • able to produce negative externalities
  • Wealth disparity is a natural result of competition.
  • Possibly encouraging bad behavior

What Is an Example of Laissez-Faire?

An economy is said to function under the Laissez-Faire policy when the government refrains from meddling in business, markets, or the economy at large. Prices and incentives for producers to maintain their ethical behavior would instead be governed by the free market. Such an economy doesn’t exist. There is some degree of governmental regulation and economic intervention in every country, even those with strong libertarian values.

Advantages of Laissez-faire

#1. Autonomy

Businesses have more freedom and autonomy in a laissez-faire economy because fewer restrictions from the government would make conducting business more challenging. In such a setting, businesses are more likely to profit from taking chances and making economic investments. Additionally, it gives businesses more motivation to aim for maximum profit.

#2. Innovation

Companies are under pressure to adopt a more innovative and creative strategy to give their products a competitive advantage. In addition to promoting economic growth, the practice advances technology.

#3. Absence of Taxes

The absence of taxes results in higher purchasing power for both businesses and employees. It also prevents corruption from developing because of bureaucrats with little regulatory experience but a lot of power. 

Disadvantages of Laissez-faire

#1. Income Disparity

In such a society, income and wealth inequality can feed a vicious cycle where one’s position in the social hierarchy of wealth depends on inheritance. Adam Smith asserts that monopolies can emerge in which they regulate the supply, impose higher prices, and pay their employees to lower wages.

#2. Failing to Represent The Interests of Society As A Whole

A laissez-faire policy might not represent the interests of other groups in society and may only serve the needs of the wealthy or the majority. As a result, while goods with negative externalities may be overconsumed, public goods with positive externalities, such as healthcare and education, may not be distributed equally in society.

What Are The 3 Principles of Laissez-Faire Economics? 

  • The basic building block of society is the individual.
  • There is an individual right to freedom.
  • Nature’s physical order is a balanced, self-regulating system.

Is Laissez-Faire Leadership Good?

Laissez-faire implies that employees are responsible for their work. Since their project ultimately depends on them, this is a great way to make sure they perform at their highest level. Laissez-faire leadership frequently results in a more laid-back corporate culture

Leaders who practice this leadership style trust and depend on their workforce. They don’t interfere too much, micromanage, or provide excessive direction or instruction. Laissez-faire leaders, on the other hand, encourage their staff to use their initiative to further their objectives.

Managers who practice this style of management are very hands-off because they have faith in their staff members’ abilities. With this leadership approach, team members and subordinates are in charge of all actual decision-making and guidance.

Characteristics of Laissez-Faire Leadership

  • Very little direction from leaders
  • Employees are capable of making decisions.
  • It is expected that individuals handle their issues.
  • Positive criticism from authorities
  • When necessary, leaders assume control.
  • Leaders are accountable for overall choices and actions.

Examples of Laissez-Faire Leadership

Warren Buffett. 

Warren Buffett has a reputation for being incredibly successful and for associating with trustworthy people. By using this leadership approach, he makes sure the team members can work effectively without his supervision, interfering only when it is necessary. Many people greatly benefit from Buffett’s reputation for allowing others to make mistakes so they can learn from them.

Steve Jobs. 

Steve Jobs was renowned for giving the team the responsibility of figuring out how to best carry out his instructions. The fact that working for Jobs allowed his team members to use their creativity and try new things was a common observation.

Advantages of Laissez-Faire Leadership 

#1. Greater Retention

Leaders who adopt this management style have an attitude of experiencing higher employee retention. When a workplace fosters a sense of trust and dependability, employees feel confident in their work and want to stick around.

#2. Accountability

Laissez-faire implies that employees are responsible for their work. Since their project ultimately depends on them, this is a great way to make sure they perform at their highest level. 

#3. A Laid-Back Corporate Culture

A more laid-back corporate culture results from laissez-faire leadership. People do not experience micromanagement or the constant presence of a manager watching them. By doing so, they can unwind, enjoy their work, and communicate effectively with their peers.

#4. An Environment That Fosters Creativity 

This leadership style is favorable for creativity. Employees believe they have the freedom and authority to take risks, think creatively, and pursue their passions. By not providing too many instructions or expectations for how a goal should be achieved, hands-off leaders encourage creativity.

#5. Employee Motivation 

Laissez-faire leadership greatly enhances employee motivation. Instead of being driven by specific instructions or expectations, they are driven by their ideas and thoughts. They are eager to demonstrate their abilities because they are aware of their independence regarding their portion of the project.

Disadvantages of Laissez-Faire Leadership

#1. Challenging for New Employees

A leader with this style of management may have trouble motivating subordinates who are new to the company or the workforce in general. It is more difficult for newcomers to adjust when they are given lax leadership because they frequently require more guidance and instruction.

#2. Uncertainty Regarding Authority. 

This leadership style occasionally results in situations where it is unclear who is in charge. Employees with more dominant personalities may occasionally try to take charge, resulting in misunderstandings and problems. 

#3. A Lack of Organization and Assistance

Lack of structure and assistance for subordinates is a common occurrence in leadership style. A set plan, check-in meetings, etc. are not frequently held under this leadership style because it is very hands-off. For the team, navigating through this can occasionally be challenging.

What Is The Opposite of Laissez-Faire?

Dirigisme is the antithesis of this school of economic thought, emphasizing the benefits of government intervention in addressing alleged market failures and inefficiencies in production.

What Is The Difference between Laissez-Faire and Capitalism?

According to pure capitalism, people, businesses, and the economy as a whole do better when there is less government intervention in the economy. Contrarily, laissez-faire is characterized by a lack of governmental controls, limitations, or regulations.


The fundamental goal of the laissez-faire economy is to encourage a free and vibrant market that calls for the restoration of the natural order and state of liberty from which humans have evolved. Thus, the free movement of forces of supply and demand, devoid of any interference from the government, a monopoly that sets prices, or any other authority, is a hallmark of this economy.

Laissez-faire policy alone is insufficient to steer an economy, but with the right balance of governmental power and the unhindered operation of market forces, economies can thrive with the least amount of risk.

Laissez Faire FAQs

What Is Laissez-Faire?

In this economics theory, the government should only interfere in the economy to uphold citizens’ unalienable rights

What Are The Advantages of Laissez-Faire?

  • Autonomy
  • Absence of taxes

What Are The Disadvantages of Laissez-Faire Leadership?

  • Lack of organization
  • Uncertainty regarding authority
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