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public goods

  Goods and services that are either freely available to all, such as unpolluted air, or those provided equally to all citizens of a defined territory. Public goods are generally provided by the state, and fall into three main categories:

{img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Pure public goods, which are freely and equally available to all people throughout a state\'s territory. Although ideally all public goods should fall within this category, few do, because of difficulties — impossibilities in many cases — in ensuring their equal provision. One of the few goods which normally falls into this category is national defence; {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Impure public goods, which are provided either at fixed locations (such as health centres and parks) or along fixed routes (such as public transport services). These are more accessible to some people than others, and because usage tends to decline with distance from a facility (cf. distance decay) the closer people live to them the greater their (potential) benefit. As a consequence, there is likely to be social and political conflict over the location of such facilities (cf. turf politics); and {img src=show_image.php?name=2022.gif } Public goods impurely distributed, because of decisions to vary the density of provision. Many public services are provided by local governments, which may differ in how much is spent on a service (or even whether it is provided), thus producing a geography of uneven provision. In addition there may be variations in the density of provision above a certain norm (cf. merit good) within one (local) government\'s territory, perhaps reflecting political decisions on the greater \'need\' of some areas relative to others (cf. pork barrel).(RJJ) Suggested Reading Bennett, R.J. 1980: The geography of public finance. London and New York: Methuen. Cox, K.R. and Johnston, R.J., eds, 1982: Conflict, politics and the urban scene. London: Longman; New York: St. Martin\'s Press. Pinch, S. 1997: Worlds of welfare: understanding the changing geographies of social welfare provision. London: Routledge.



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