What are "Public Goods"?

Well, they're not things just left lying around for anyone to pick up. They in fact refer to benefits which society as a whole enjoys but which cannot usually be paid for by individuals - they can't be divided and delivered. The classic example of a public good is national defence. Another one is roads, although these can also be paid for by users (e.g. by paying tolls).

In the modern world, the range of public goods is expanding as societies and governments identify needs based on newly recognised concerns, with the environment an obvious case. At the same time, non-governmental players, such as the very wealthy, are beginning to get involved in paying for and/or supplying public goods, for example in large scale healthcare projects. However, it's important that government and the private sector collaborate actively, essentially in identifying needs and the setting of agendas, to ensure that the additional resources being offered can be applied with optimal outcomes for the recipient population.


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