Public Goods

Public goods have two distinct aspects: nonexcludability and nonrivalrous consumption. “Nonexcludability” means that the cost of keeping nonpayers from enjoying the benefits of the good or service is prohibitive. If an entrepreneur stages a fireworks show, for example, people can watch the show from their windows or backyards. Because the entrepreneur cannot charge a fee for consumption, the fireworks show may go unproduced, even if demand for the show is strong.

Tyler Cowen
Published in: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics