• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Public Goods

The term public good denotes things, including products, services, and conditions, that could affect all or anyone anywhere, for better or worse. Put differently, public goods are things that are in the public domain.

Key Characteristics

Economists distinguish two main categories of goods: private goods and public goods. The main characteristic of private goods is that they are, or can be made, excludable. Clear property rights can be attached to them, and others can be prevented from consuming them. Examples are houses and cars that can be locked or land that can be fenced in. Many private goods are also, in economists' speak, rival in consumption, meaning that a person's consumption of the good, say, a glass of milk, diminishes or eliminates its availability for others.

Public goods, ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles