Private alternatives to public goods

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This page leads to examples and thoughts about public goods and how they can be supplied by private, voluntary means (i.e. without a government).

Public goods

Main article: Public goods

It is hard to exclude people from the consumption of a public good (the "free rider problem") and it can be consumed without diminishing anyone else's enjoyment. Because these goods will not be produced in a sufficient amount, or at all, they should be produced by the government - or so it is commonly thought.

There are numerous examples of public goods, possibly the most widespread is national defense: "To the extent one person in a geographic area is defended from foreign attack or invasion, other people in that same area are likely defended also. This makes it hard to charge people for defense, which means that defense faces the classic free-rider problem. Indeed, almost all economists are convinced that the only way to provide a sufficient level of defense is to have government do it and fund defense with taxes."[1]

Security and safety:


Welfare and other:


  1. Tyler Cowen. "Public Goods", Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, referenced 2009-05-22.

See also