Good (economics)

As Good in general is referred to in economics all agents that serve to satisfy needs.

In the narrower sense, goods as economic goods; these are defined by their scarcity (hence scarce goods ): there is a good that is not at any time and at any place in the desired quality and quantity. Important characteristics of economic goods are the exchange and marketability.

  • 2.1 to availability
  • 2.2 by excludability and rivalry
  • 2.3 by objectivity ( materiality )
  • 2.4 on the purpose and duration of use
  • 2.5 according to production capacity
  • 2.6 according to demand behavior
  • 2.7 on the type of information asymmetry
  • 2.8 if possible transport
  • 2.9 after welfare effects


In economics it is assumed that people have infinitely many needs ( " Unersättlichkeitsaxiom "). That is, the demand quantity is always greater than supply. The assets defined as a result of this shortage form the basis of the definition of economic activity. For since the provision of goods incurs costs, we are forced to economic action.

Under economies means the deciding scarce goods. This fact is considered by many to be a consistent, space - and time-independent and ideologieindifferenter question circle the appropriate operational and determines the business object of knowledge precisely.

Goods are therefore a key element of any economic science investigation. Because of their defined broadly capture the economics de facto all resources and services as "good", the cause of any use. Thus, it is ultimately the properties determined from an economic perspective, the economic welfare.

Because of their effects on welfare is a fundamental task of economic policy is to provide conditions which allow an optimal allocation of goods on the purchasers.

Provision and distribution

What motivates market participants to produce goods or provide and how are they distributed? Böventer and Illing (1997) note that:

The individual principles are never found in pure form - as the social market economy is a combination of market mechanism and partial control by the state, such as in the provision of public goods and the use of tax or subsidy.

Classification: types of goods

Main contents of the classification are due to Erich Kosiol. They are, among other things, the distinction between real and nominal assets, tangible and intangible assets, derivative and original goods.

To availability

Here, free and scarce goods can be distinguished.

A good is free when it is in the area concerned for the observed time available in such large quantities that each person can consume as many units of the good, as he wants, or until its saturation level achieved.

Examples are called air to breathe or water frequently. This flat-rate examples are problematic, because it should be ignored when looking at any of the three aspects mentioned in the definition. Thus, the air in 2011 in Germany on the Baltic Sea is free - in some cities, but it is managed indirectly ( see environmental zone ). Furthermore, think of the air in the International Space Station, their transport and treatment costs money.

Since free goods are available to a sufficient extent available, they have no price. In a market system the price is the indicator of the scarcities. Ergo applies: the scarcer a commodity, the higher its price. The terms price and cost must be broad here as an individual often does not need the use of a property to pay.

Free goods are not to be confused with common goods. Although these are for all buyers freely accessible, but their deployment is often associated with costs. For example, a municipality or a private operator of a supermarket offering parking for motorists charged. The number of parking places is but natural limits and therefore can just be (→ tragedy of the commons ).

In contrast to the free movement of goods are scarce goods ( also economic goods, economic goods or commodities ) is not a sufficient amount available. Scarce goods must be produced or provided by the economic activity of people. In a market system, the balance between the scarce supply of goods and the much higher demand is mostly on price. So at a high price a good is usually less demand than at a lower price. Economic goods are divided into real goods (property, goods, services and rights) and nominal assets ( cash and non-cash securities).

By excludability and rivalry

Here one can distinguish in exclusion enabling goods and exclusion may not permitting goods. Most goods of daily life make it possible to exclude people from their consumption. Not the case, however, this is for example the case of air; a person from consumption to exclude air, which are in its environment air would have to be pumped out. Typical other examples of goods that provide no exclusion of individuals, national defense are ( one can not exclude an individual citizen from the fact that he is defended militarily in the event of an attack ) or dikes (all people who live behind a dike, from floods protected - the exclusion of individual is not possible). However, a tendency to increasing excludability: goods such as television or the use of roads allow today, unlike earlier, the exclusion of individual ( pay TV and toll ). In other words: The achievement of excludability is just a matter of effort - increased costs (usually costs) could be mentioned the dike to be built, for example, a particular house. This in turn would exclude from protection.

A distinction is made in rival goods and non- rival goods. Rival goods are characterized by the fact that the consumption of a good by a consumer consumption of the same good by another consumer, impairs or blocks. Typical non - rival goods are such as television (when watching TV in the house next door, the own reception deteriorated thereby not) or breathing. However, the rivalry or non-rivalry is also depending on the situation: If you look in the corner bar a football match on Sky, so the consumption of the individual is limited with each other pubs in the guest. Similarly, the consumption rivalry increases when breathing in a stuck elevator significantly. On the other hand, a bread eating a consumer, can not be simultaneously consumed in full by any other person. Also in this category arise gray zones: So the good motorway usage is not initially rival as a second car on the highway does not interfere with the individual driver. For strongly increasing traffic, however, the highway use is rival.

By objectivity ( materiality )

It is in this regard ( also referred to as "material assets", such as house ) of tangible products and intangible products distinguished. The latter can in turn be subdivided into services ( eg doctor's visit) and non-material goods (such as patents). Again, the transition is smooth. So a car is undoubtedly a tangible good, while the customer service on said car is a service.

On the purpose and duration of use

There are here distinguished consumer goods (eg, food, books, private cars, home furnishings, etc.) of production goods (eg, a commercial ice machine, corporate buildings, company car, petrol, electricity, water, etc.). Intermediate goods are bought by the company and are used to produce consumer goods, while consumer goods are bought by households.

These goods can be further differentiated according to their expected useful life; you made ​​here between permanently usable goods (ie, goods whose expected useful life of more than one year ) and non- durable goods usable (ie, goods with an expected useful life of less than one year).

Consumer goods that are consumed after single use is referred to as consumer goods, consumer goods, which can be used over a longer period of time than consumer goods. A coffee maker in the household is a commodity, because it is used over a longer period, however, the associated ground coffee is due to its unique utility a consumer.

Intermediate goods that are used over a longer period in the company, is referred to as capital goods, intermediate goods with a lower expected useful life is called intermediate goods. A used in a company varnishing is therefore due to their durability capital assets, the excipient paint used by her hand is a Vorleistungsgut.

According to production capacity

Separation in direct goods or raw materials that flow directly into a production (eg metal for a car plant) and indirect goods used for maintaining the business (eg, sandpaper, office furniture). The latter are often referred to in the context of electronic procurement as MRO goods ( from the English Maintain - Repair - Operate).

According to demand behavior

Common goods are characterized by the fact that they are in demand with rising prices to a lesser extent (negative price elasticity ). In contrast, a Giffengut with increasing price is increasingly consumed (positive price elasticity ).

Inferior Good to be income rises to a lesser extent in demand (negative income elasticity ). Vital goods have an income elasticity greater than 0 but less than 1. Normal goods are income rises to a greater extent in demand (positive income elasticity ).

The demand for a luxury good rises excessively on incomes rise. In contrast, the demand hardly rises to a necessary good incomes rise.

Substitution goods are goods that replace themselves, so are interchangeable. Consequently, in a Substitutionsgut increasing demand when the other good more expensive.

Different levels can be distinguished on substitutability: Can two goods will be replaced completely with each other without additional costs, quality differences or similar incentives occur, which might lead consumers to prefer one product, one speaks of a perfect or perfect Substitutionsgut. The marginal rate of substitution of a Guts for the other is constant. Typical substitutes are bread and rolls.

If both goods are not perfectly substitutable with the other one, it is called incomplete substitutes. Is attributable to incomplete substitutability quality or pricing differences between the goods. Examples of imperfect substitutes are CDs and audio cassettes; While both allow recording and playback of music, but they differ in quality and disk space.

Complementary goods are goods that complement each other during use. You are in demand together. Consequently, the demand for a commodity falls when the price of his Komplementärguts increases.

Again, we can distinguish different degrees: Can two goods are only consumed together, it is called perfect complements - the purchase of one good without simultaneous purchase of other goods pointless. In mathematical terms, the benefit of the consumer ( ) then results from. Examples of perfect complements, right and left hand gloves.

In contrast, incomplete complements are those goods that complement each other, but also upon either separately on the market - such as computers, printers and screen.

Goods can also be then distinguish whether a demand has different preferences ( preferences ) for various makes a Gutsklasse. If so, then one speaks of heterogeneous goods, if not of homogeneous goods.

The different preferences can be justified as well as by subjective product differences (eg, brand image ) both by objective product differences ( size, purpose, quality, etc.). Typical examples are electrical current (for homogeneous goods ) and cars ( for heterogeneous goods ).

Homogeneous goods are completely interchangeable. Here there are no objective differences (ie the goods are material, their purpose, their place of purchase etc. similar ) nor subjective differences ( that is, the buyers have any preferences for certain providers). If there is a homogeneous good, so alone determines the price of the purchase decision.

The homogeneity of the goods is a necessary condition for the perfect market. Examples of homogeneous goods are call-by -call phone tariffs, electric power, shares of the same company. From the nature largely homogeneous are banknotes of the same currency and fuels, as long as they were made not by heterogeneous additives and / or advertising.

Assign goods, however, have different properties, so they are not interchangeable. This reduces competition between providers. Material goods are not homogeneous in general, as their supply is connected depending on location and with different purchasing experiences. A typical example of heterogeneous goods are cars that differ in quality, features, brand image, etc..

The type of information asymmetry

The theory of information economics differs according to the type of information asymmetry between buyers and sellers. Does the seller of a commodity more information about the Good as the demand, there is information asymmetry.

By way of transportation

There are tradable ( eng. Trade Ables ) and non-tradable goods ( eng. Non -Trade Ables ), where non-tradable goods are not traded internationally due to high transport costs or other reasons. Examples of non- tradable goods, certain services in many cases. By definition, all properties are non-tradable goods.

The differentiation of goods to their tradability plays in particular in the context of international trade theory and other theoretical economic concepts play a role. This explains, for example, the Balassa -Samuelson effect international price and inflation differentials with the existence of non-tradable goods.

Economically tangible goods that moved ( transported ) will be called movables. Material goods, which are immovable, real estate. Thus, the economic concept of property is broad to be considered as the general language use. Economically, this includes not only buildings or land, but also roads and power lines.

After welfare effects

A merit good is a good that is not in demand from a social perspective sufficiently. Analogous to this is a good demeritorisches a good that is to strong demand from a social perspective. In both types of goods, there are various reasons for this " false " demand behavior: irrational decisions, incomplete information, incorrect rates of time preference and external effects.