All this time I was thinking that common-pool resources are common goods, until I read this excerpt from a book. It is an Excerpt from a book by Elinor Ostrom

  • $\begingroup$ Do "common goods", "collective goods" and "public goods" to refer to the same thing? $\endgroup$
    – Herr K.
    Commented Sep 1, 2019 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ The term used in your quote is "collective goods", not "common goods". $\endgroup$
    – user18
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 1:04

2 Answers 2


Common pool resources can be depleted by overuse.

For example, an area of communal grazing land would be a common pool resource because grazing too many animals decreases the amount of grass available to each animal.

Wikipedia is a common good but are not a common pool resource - reading a lot of articles on Wikipedia does not reduce the number of articles available for everyone else to read.

  • $\begingroup$ Can Wikipedia be considered as a Common Good? According to theory I have come across, for something to be a public good it has to be non-excludable and non-rival. For example, sunshine. Can you exclude people from enjoying sunshine? Nope. No one can be excluded. Does sunshine have any rival, that if I am using it, someone else cannot use it? Nope. Anyone can use it. So, sunshine is non-rival and non-excludable. So, it is a public good. Same goes for Wikipedia as well, that no one can be excluded from using it, and if I use Wikipedia does not mean other person cannot use it. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 8:20

A useful reference is the matrix proposed by Elinor Ostrom:

enter image description here
Source: Hess & Ostrom (2007)

Common-pool resources (= Common goods, Wikipedia):
using them impacts others + exclusion is difficult (e.g. the climate)

Public goods (= Collective goods, Source):
using them does not impact others + exclusion is difficult (e.g. knowledge)

i.e. what Taylor says is that privatising the atmosphere would not resolve the collective action problem; although it would make sense given that its use is subtractable (= rivalrous) it cannot be done because exclusion is difficult.


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