wage and price controls, economic policy measure in which the government places a ceiling on wages and prices to curb inflation. Also known as incomes policy, such programs have generally been avoided in the United States during peacetime. Brief but strict wage and price controls were imposed during World War II and the Korean War, as well as more limited ones in the 1960s. America's most controversial peacetime experiment with an incomes policy was during the period 1971–74, when inflation was fueled by the costs of the Vietnam War, the 1973 oil embargo, and the later quadrupling in the world price of oil by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Wage and price controls during peacetime have yielded minor gains at best in the United States; in postwar Western Europe, incomes policies have been more frequently used. Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany have all implemented controls at various times and France has experimented with wage and price controls many times since the 19th cent.
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