Common Resource

Course Outline

Dictionary of Economics

Course (113 videos)

Common Resource

What is a common resource?

A common resource is any good or service that is nonexcludable and rival.

To illustrate this concept, we use the example of fishing for tuna in the ocean. No one can be legally excluded from fishing in non-territorial waters, and tuna are also rival -- meaning that for every tuna you catch, there is one fewer tuna for someone else to catch.

Overuse of a common resource often leads to a tragedy of the commons.

What are some other examples of common resources? Watch to find out!

For more, see MRU’s microeconomics course section on public goods and tragedy of the commons.

Teacher Resources


What is a "common resource"? A common resource is any good or service that is nonexcludable and rival.


Let's look at tuna in the ocean as an example of a common resource. The tuna are nonexcludable because there are no property rights to fish in the ocean. No one can legally be prevented, or excluded, from fishing for tuna outside of a nation's territorial waters. Tuna are also rival. Every tuna you catch means one fewer tuna for someone else to catch.


Other examples of common resources are the environment and public roads. These nonexcludable and rival resources often lead to a tragedy of the commons, the destruction of that common resource. In the case of tuna, that means the collapse of the fishing stock.



Thanks to our awesome community of subtitle contributors, individual videos in this course might have additional languages. More info below on how to see which languages are available (and how to contribute more!).

How to turn on captions and select a language:

  1. Click the settings icon (⚙) at the bottom of the video screen.
  2. Click Subtitles/CC.
  3. Select a language.


Contribute Translations!

Join the team and help us provide world-class economics education to everyone, everywhere for free! You can also reach out to us at [email protected] for more info.

Submit subtitles




We aim to make our content accessible to users around the world with varying needs and circumstances.

Currently we provide:

Are we missing something? Please let us know at [email protected]


Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The third party material as seen in this video is subject to third party copyright and is used here pursuant
to the fair use doctrine as stipulated in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. We grant no rights and make no
warranties with regard to the third party material depicted in the video and your use of this video may
require additional clearances and licenses. We advise consulting with clearance counsel before relying
on the fair use doctrine.