Government and economy
Government planning plays an important role in Iran’s economy. Since the late 1940s the government has designed and implemented multiyear planning programs with the goal of industrial diversification. After the 1979 revolution, the government continued the industrialization that the shah had pursued but emphasized economic self-sufficiency, which required greater investment in agriculture. However, the flight abroad in 1978 and 1979 of most of the social and political elite, along with their capital (estimated at more than $28 billion), combined with the costly war with Iraq in the 1980s, left Iran’s economy severely damaged.
After the war, the Iranian government declared its intention to privatize most state industries in an effort to stimulate the ailing economy. The sale of state-owned factories and companies proceeded slowly, however, and most industries remained state-owned in the early 21st century. The majority of heavy industry—including steel, petrochemicals, copper, automobiles, and machine tools—was in the public sector, while most light industry was privately owned.