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A free rider can be defined as a person who, being a member of a group, decides to take advantage of the consumption of a good, or use of a service, that is generated as a result of the common efforts by the group members, without bearing a proportionate (or, in pure free riding, any) share of its cost of production or without contributing to its direct realization. One simple way of representing free riding is to think of a member of a rowing team who fails to do his or her share by faking the rowing effort—consequently getting a “free ride” on the boat.

The possibility of free riding is not an exceptional case: On the contrary, according to economic and rational choice theory ...

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