Public goods in economics are those things that are desirable, but neither rivalrous nor excludable. That is, one person’s enjoyment of the good doesn’t detract from anyone else’s enjoyment of it, and it’s impossible to prevent people who haven’t paid for it from enjoying it.
For the purposes of this article, the main example of public goods I’ll be referring to is that of free cultural works, such as open source software and public domain audiobooks.
Obviously, a lot of these public goods are being produced, sometimes for altruistic reasons, sometimes for fun, and sometimes because it makes economic sense for the producer of the good, even if no-one else who will enjoy the good contributes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with altruism, but people can only afford a certain amount of it, so perhaps we could have even more public goods if we could figure out an efficient way of funding them. How well can we do? Continue reading Funding public goods