Rivalry (economics)

In economics, a good is considered either rivalrous (rival) or nonrival. Rival goods are goods whose consumption by one consumer prevents simultaneous consumption by other consumers. Most goods, both durable and nondurable, are rival goods. A hammer is a durable rival good. One person's use of the hammer presents a significant barrier to others who desire to use that hammer at the same time. However, the first user does not "use up" the hammer, meaning that some rival goods can still be shared through time. An apple is a nondurable rival good: once an apple is eaten, it is "used up" and no longer able to be eaten by others.

In contrast, nonrival goods may be consumed by one consumer without preventing simultaneous consumption by others. Most examples of nonrival goods are intangible. Television is an example of a nonrival good: when a consumer turns on a set, this doesn't prevent the TV in another consumer's house from working. Here, the nonrival good is not the TV but rather the television service. More generally, most intellectual property is nonrival. Nonrival, tangible objects include, for example, a beautiful scenic view.

Goods that are non-rival are therefore goods that can be enjoyed simultaneously by an unlimited number of consumers. Goods that are both nonrival and non-excludable are called public goods.

Rivalrous and Non-Rivalrous are also terms that can also be used when describing media consumption. A rivalrous medium describes one that cannot be easily consumed while performing other tasks. For example, watching television or reading while driving, whereas a Non-Rivalrous media is one that can easily be consumed and enjoyed while performing other tasks; for example listening to the radio or engaging in conversation while driving.

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