With the current worldwide Covid crisis, unemployment and inequality are increasing in South Africa as well. Many see the current situation also as an opportunity to discuss alternative economic models - and these must also focus on the practical role the state and the market should play to achieve inclusive sustainable growth.
Can the “Social Market Economy“ be adapted to the South African context and be successfull here? What is its history, and what are its crucial characteristics? Do they align with the current situation in South Africa?
These were the questions for the panelists and the large audience at the seminar which included many eminent decision makers and other exerts.
Professor Beckmann gave a comprehensive overview of the historic situation in Germany during its introduction of the model. Using graphs and historic and current photographs, he spoke on the generation of the ideas behind the model by economists and other specialists, decision making processes involving diverse stakeholder groups as well as key aspects of the model in theory and practice.
Trevor Manuel argued the current South African situation differed substantially from the one prevalent in post-war Germany at the time. He also cautioned that, for it to work successfully, the model would require institutional strengths and other societal characteristics not necessarily given here at this point. Moreover, he added that modern challenges of digitalisation, growing inequality and an ageing population in Germany would probably require innovative adaptations of the model there as well.