Non-excludable goods refer to public goods that cannot exclude a certain person or group of persons from using such goods. As a result, restricting access to the consumption of non-excludable goods is nearly impossible. For example, a public road allows practically everyone to use it regardless of the type of motor vehicle they are using, or even if they are just walking.
Non-Excludable Goods vs. Excludable Goods
Non-excludable goods and excludable goods are opposites. The former means every single person can access a certain public good and consume it, while the latter refers to goods that restrict some people from using them. Excludable goods are private goods, while non-excludable goods are public goods.
For example, while everyone can use a public road, not everyone can go to a cinema as they please. To enter one, a person needs to purchase a ticket, and their purchase of a ticket excludes someone else because seating is limited.
Non-Excludable Goods vs. Non-Rivalrous Goods
Most public goods are non-rivalrous. Though few economists agree that all non-excludable goods are non-rivalrous, there are also non-rivalrous goods that are excludable. Non-rivalrous goods are those goods that can be consumed by the people and the community without affecting the availability of the same goods to others.
For example, when a concert or government office decides to put on a fireworks display, everybody can watch it, making the good non-rivalrous because everyone who sees it can enjoy exactly the same fireworks display. Besides its being non-rivalrous, it is also non-excludable.
Non-Excludable Goods vs. Rivalrous Goods
While non-excludable goods are free for the use of everyone, making them public, rivalrous goods are private goods wherein people may compete for their consumption of it. For example, a person who buys a car can only use it for himself and restrict others from using it.
Buying petrol and putting it into the fuel tank is an example of a rivalrous good because it affects the supply available for other consumers. The situation also portrays petrol as an excludable good.
Free Rider Problem
Free rider problems are common in every community. Such a situation happens when people want to use a particular good without paying for the good. Free riders want to enjoy the benefits of such goods while hoping that someone else will pay for them or help with their maintenance.
For example, a deep well is built for everyone’s use, and everyone is expected to contribute their share for its maintenance. Free-riders will just want to use the deep well without helping to bear the cost of it. Because of such people, the service or product provided may not be enough for all or may be compromised. This is an example of how non-excludable goods can have a negative effect on society.