John Kenneth Galbraith was a renowned economist who was famous for his work on economic theory and public policy. One of his most significant contributions to the field of economics is the theory of social balance. In this article, we will delve deeper into Galbraith’s theory of social balance and explore its significance.

What is Galbraith’s Theory of Social Balance?

Galbraith’s theory of social balance posits that the economic system should be designed in such a way that it meets the needs and wants of all members of society. According to Galbraith, there are two types of goods – private goods and public goods. Private goods are those that are consumed by individuals, while public goods are those that are consumed collectively by society.

The Role of Public Goods

Galbraith believed that public goods were essential for achieving social balance. Public goods include things like education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

These goods are critical because they benefit society as a whole rather than just individuals. Galbraith argued that the provision of public goods should be the responsibility of the government rather than the private sector.

The Role of Private Goods

While Galbraith emphasized the importance of public goods, he also recognized the role played by private goods in achieving social balance. Private goods include things like food, clothing, and shelter – basic necessities that everyone needs to survive.

According to Galbraith, private goods should be produced in sufficient quantities so that everyone has access to them. However, he also recognized that there would always be some people who could not afford these basic necessities. Therefore, he argued for a system in which wealth is distributed more equally so that everyone has access to these essentials.

The Importance of Government Intervention

Galbraith believed that achieving social balance required government intervention in the economy. He argued that markets alone were not sufficient to ensure that everyone had access to the goods and services they needed. Therefore, he advocated for policies such as progressive taxation and income redistribution to ensure that wealth was distributed more equally.


In conclusion, Galbraith’s theory of social balance is a significant contribution to economic theory and public policy. His emphasis on the importance of public goods and government intervention in the economy has had a lasting impact on economic thought. By advocating for a more equal distribution of wealth and access to essential goods, Galbraith’s theory continues to inspire policymakers and economists today.