Re: Defining Public Goods

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 17:10:44 -0800 (PST)

> Varian, "Microeconomic Analysis" was the standard grad econ text until
> recently. In the 3rd edition p. 414, starting the chapter titled
> "public goods", it gives this definition:
> "We say that a good is excludable if people can be excluded from
> consuming it. We say that a good is nonrival if one person's
> consumption does not reduce the amount available to other consumers. ...
> Goods that are not excludable and are nonrival are called public goods."

Interesting. That is a more useful definition than the one I'm used
to, and if it is indeed a standard text, I should start using it. It
doesn't quite fit some old examples of public good, though, like law
enforcement, because they are not nonrival. Does this book have a
specific term for "commons", i.e., non-excludable, rival goods?

Lee Daniel Crocker <>