The Malaysian economy presents a variable mix of state management and free market activity, and of consistent growth (with the occasional notable downturn) and areas of chronic inefficiency. Both priorities and constraints have shifted over time, from ethnic equilibration, to rent-seeking/distribution, to upwardly mobile competitiveness. A predominantly agricultural society, with a clear congruence between ethnicity and occupational sector and a high level of foreign ownership, Malaysia is now over two-thirds urban, with a large and growing multiracial middle class. However, Malaysia struggles with issues of distribution, of sustainability (environmental and otherwise), and of balancing economic rationality, social desirability and partisan exigency, given the government’s heavy reliance on redistributive policies and performance legitimacy.