In a newly released report, the Denny Center for Democratic Capitalism at Georgetown Law finds that while capitalism continues to generate growing total wealth, produce new innovations, and provide jobs, the economic system also faces significant pressures including growing gaps in incomes, a slowdown in upward mobility, inadequate stewardship of natural resources, a decline in business investment, and a decreasing quality of market competition.  The center used a clinical, data-driven approach to evaluate democratic capitalism’s overall health in the United States – and compared key American trends to those in other democratic economies.

The Inaugural Report on the Health of Democratic Capitalism states that “While almost everyone agrees that free market capitalism is the most efficient wealth creation system, reconciling the benefits of capitalism with broader societal needs and aspirations is a perennial tug of war. […] Maintaining balance between the two is critical to the future of both capitalism and a flourishing democratic society.”

The report analyzed data on the status of the American economic system and how various aspects of the economy impact both democracy and society more broadly. The report asserts, “Capitalism as an economic system is under fire because its ability to generate wealth and innovations appears to be falling out of step with society’s needs and values. Though reasonable voices may disagree on potential solutions, the Inaugural Report aims to present data all sides can accept as a true reflection of the present realities – and to raise critical issues that require long-term solutions.”

Established in 2020 by a generous gift from Georgetown Law alumnus James McCahill Denny (L’60) and charged with a unique vision grounded in life experience, the Denny Center exists to reconcile the benefits of free market capitalism with the values and expectations of a democratic society. “The Denny Center mission calls us to wrestle with the economic and societal tensions present in our democracy,” said Bruce R. Shaw, Executive Director of the Denny Center. “This inaugural report sets the stage so that we can prioritize future research with the goal of strengthening democratic capitalism in the U.S. and around the world.”

To carry out its mission, the Denny Center pursues work in three areas: (1) producing research, beginning with the center’s signature Inaugural Report on the Health of Democratic Capitalism, to analyze the current health of democratic capitalism (i.e., both its economic vitality and its broader contribution to the well-being of citizens, households, and society), (2) convening leading voices from business, government, and societal institutions to discuss the existing tensions and recommend potential paths forward, and (3) creating student experiences to enrich their education, engage them in the center’s work, and prepare them for lifelong contributions to society.

In addition to the Inaugural Report’s credited contributors, the center is grateful for the important contributions of Mark Denny and Kelsey Harrison.  Prior to the center’s formal start-up, Mr. Denny assisted in identifying, collecting, and sorting relevant data for initial outlines of the report and has continued to act as a valuable sounding board; Ms. Harrison, Program Coordinator at the Denny Center, was instrumental in structuring, writing, and editing the final version of the report.