State ownership

A plaque marking state property in Riga, Latvia.

State ownership (also called public ownership and government ownership) is the ownership of an industry, asset, or enterprise by the state or a public body representing a community as opposed to an individual or private party.[1] Public ownership specifically refers to industries selling goods and services to consumers and differs from public goods and government services financed out of a government’s general budget.[2] Public ownership can take place at the national, regional, local, or municipal levels of government; or can refer to non-governmental public ownership vested in autonomous public enterprises. Public ownership is one of the three major forms of property ownership, differentiated from private, collective/cooperative, and common ownership.[3]

In market-based economies, state-owned assets are often managed and operated as joint-stock corporations with a government owning all or a controlling stake of the company's shares. This form is often referred to as a state-owned enterprise. A state-owned enterprise might variously operate as a not-for-profit corporation, as it may not be required to generate a profit; as a commercial enterprise in competitive sectors; or as a natural monopoly. Governments may also use the profitable entities they own to support the general budget. The creation of a state-owned enterprise from other forms of public property is called corporatization.

In Soviet-type economies, state property was the dominant form of industry as property. The state held a monopoly on land and natural resources, and enterprises operated under the legal framework of a nominally planned economy, and thus according to different criteria than enterprises in market and mixed economies.

Nationalization is a process of transferring private or municipal assets to a central government or state entity. Municipalization is the process of transferring private or state assets to a municipal government.

State-owned enterprise

A state-owned enterprise is a commercial enterprise owned by a government entity in a capitalist market or mixed economy. Reasons for state ownership of commercial enterprises are that the enterprise in question is a natural monopoly or because the government is promoting economic development and industrialization. State-owned enterprises may or may not be expected to operate in a broadly commercial manner and may or may not have monopolies in their areas of activity. The transformation of public entities and government agencies into government-owned corporations is sometimes a precursor to privatization.

State capitalist economies are capitalist market economies that have high degrees of government-owned businesses.

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