Free rider

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In economics, collective bargaining, psychology, and political science, a free rider (or freeloader) is someone who consumes a resource without paying for it, or pays less than the full cost. The free rider problem is the question of how to limit free riding (or its negative effects). Free riding is usually considered to be an economic problem only when it leads to the non-production or under-production of a public good (and thus to Pareto inefficiency), or when it leads to the excessive use of a common property resource. The term free rider comes from the example of someone using public transportation without paying the fare. If too many people do this, the system will not have enough money to operate. Another example of a free rider is someone who does not pay his or her share of taxes, which help pay for public goods that all citizens benefit from, such as roads, water treatment plants, and fire services.


When bargaining, players often bid less than they are prepared to pay in the hope of improving their positions. This creates problems because it is impossible to discover the players' true demand payoff curves, and therefore inefficient allocation of resources is likely to result.

In the context of labor unions, a free rider is an employee who pays no union dues or agency shop fees, but nonetheless receives the same benefits of union representation as dues-payers. Under U.S. law, unions owe a duty of fair representation to all workers that they represent, regardless of whether they pay dues. Free riding has been a point of legal and political contention for decades. In Canadian labour law, the Rand formula (also referred to as automatic check-off) is a workplace situation in which the payment of trade union dues is mandatory, regardless of the worker's opinion about the union. Perception of free riders

Those seen as free riders are often resented because they are thought to be taking more than their fair share of a resource or failing to shoulder any part of the cost of it. They cause teams to perform less well because other members become less willing to contribute when they think that one or more members are free riding. People also dislike those they perceive to be free riders because they have a strong aversion to being a sucker (see "sucker effect").



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