Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Public Goods

  • Tim FrieheEmail author
  • Florian Baumann
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_393


A public good is a good that simultaneously features both nonexcludability and nonrivalry in consumption.

Delimitation and Examples

A pure public good is a good that simultaneously features both nonexcludability and nonrivalry in consumption. Nonexcludability implies that excluding individuals from making use of the good is prohibitively costly, such that all individuals can benefit from the provision of the good. Nonrivalry means that the consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce the consumption possibilities of other individuals. Classic examples include national defense or a lighthouse. In contrast, a private good is characterized by both excludability and rivalry in consumption. For example, if an apple is consumed by one individual no other individual can make use of the apple. In addition, excluding other individuals from the benefits of the apple is associated with only minor costs. There are also goods that show rivalry in consumption but...

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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Economics Group, Philipps-University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Center for Advanced Studies in Law and Economics (CASTLE)University of BonnBonnGermany