Public Capital

Public Capital

Public Capital Jonathan Poland

Public capital refers to the physical and intangible assets owned and managed by the government for the benefit of society. These assets can include infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and public buildings, as well as natural resources such as parks and forests. Public capital also includes intangible assets such as the legal and regulatory framework, as well as the knowledge and expertise of public sector employees.

Public capital plays a vital role in supporting economic growth and development, as it provides the infrastructure and resources necessary for businesses and individuals to thrive. It can also contribute to social and environmental outcomes, such as improving access to education and healthcare, and protecting natural resources.

However, the level and quality of public capital can vary significantly across countries and regions. Governments must carefully balance the need to invest in public capital with the need to maintain fiscal sustainability. This can be challenging, as the benefits of public capital may not always be immediate or easily quantifiable, and there may be competing priorities for public resources.

In summary, public capital is an important component of a country’s overall capital stock, and plays a vital role in supporting economic growth and development, as well as social and environmental outcomes. Governments must carefully consider the investments needed to maintain and enhance public capital, in order to support the long-term well-being of their citizens and societies. The following are common types of public capital with examples of each.

Transportation Infrastructure
Infrastructure for moving people and goods.

  • Airports
  • Roads
  • Streets
  • Train Stations

It is very common for developed countries to provide universal public healthcare for free such that governments commonly own most of their healthcare system.

  • Clinical Lab
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Long-Term Care Facility

Institutions that provide education, often for free or low cost.

  • Colleges
  • K-12 Schools
  • Training Programs
  • Universities

The criminal justice system.

  • Courts
  • Police
  • Prisons
  • Rehabilitation Programs

Safety Infrastructure
Hard and soft infrastructure that improves public safety.

  • Consumer Safety
  • Firefighting
  • Transportation Safety
  • Ambulances

Public Space
Public space is mostly natural capital such as land but includes services and land improvements that are public capital.

  • Beaches
  • City Parks
  • National Parks
  • Streets

Utilities are basic services that are critical to quality of life. These are often owned by a government or heavily regulated to prevent monopolies from undermining the competitiveness and quality of life of a nation.

  • Electricity
  • Internet Access
  • Telephone
  • Water

Arts & Culture
Arts and culture programs and facilities.

  • Artifacts of Heritage
  • Historical Buildings
  • Museums
  • Performance Venues

Sports & Recreation
Places for international, national or community sports and recreation.

  • Arenas
  • Ice Rinks
  • Sports Infrastructure
  • Stadiums

Research and development facilities and programs.

  • Labs
  • Science Infrastructure
  • Science Programs
  • Space Programs

Any capital used by a government to provide its services is public capital. For example:

  • Energy Infrastructure
  • Government Buildings
  • IT Infrastructure
  • Waste Management Facilities
Learn More
Customer Dissatisfaction Jonathan Poland

Customer Dissatisfaction

Customer dissatisfaction refers to a customer’s negative evaluation of a product or service. It can be measured by asking customers…

Cost Innovation Jonathan Poland

Cost Innovation

Cost innovation is the practice of finding ways to significantly improve value while reducing costs. This can be achieved through…

Storytelling Jonathan Poland


Storytelling is the act of using narrative to communicate information in an engaging and memorable way. Businesses can use storytelling…

Business Impact Risk Jonathan Poland

Business Impact Risk

Business impact risk refers to the potential negative consequences that a business may face as a result of certain events…

Financial Controls Jonathan Poland

Financial Controls

Financial controls are the policies, procedures, and processes that an organization puts in place to manage and protect its financial…

Brand Management Jonathan Poland

Brand Management

Brand management is the process of creating, developing, and managing a brand in order to build brand equity and drive…

Scarcity Marketing Jonathan Poland

Scarcity Marketing

Scarcity marketing is a strategy that involves creating a perception of limited availability for a product or service. This strategy…

Management Decisions Jonathan Poland

Management Decisions

Management decisions are decisions that pertain to the direction and control of a company or organization. These decisions may cover…

Business Analysis Jonathan Poland

Business Analysis

Business analysis is the practice of researching and developing strategies, plans, solutions, and studies to support the goals and objectives…

Content Database

Search over 1,000 posts on topics across
business, finance, and capital markets.

Upselling Jonathan Poland


Upselling is a sales technique that involves encouraging customers to purchase higher-priced, add-ons, or upgraded versions of products or services…

Psychographics Jonathan Poland


Psychographics is the study of personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. It is a research method used to identify and…

Industrial Internet of Things Jonathan Poland

Industrial Internet of Things

Industrial IoT describes the ecosystem of devices, sensors, applications, and associated networking equipment that work together to collect, monitor, and analyze data across industrial operations.

Business Capability Jonathan Poland

Business Capability

A business capability is a broad term that refers to the things that a business is able to do or…

Business Impact Risk Jonathan Poland

Business Impact Risk

Business impact risk refers to the potential negative consequences that a business may face as a result of certain events…

Perfect Competition Jonathan Poland

Perfect Competition

Perfect competition is a theoretical market structure in which a large number of buyers and sellers participate and no single…

What is a Durable Product? Jonathan Poland

What is a Durable Product?

A durable product is a product that is designed to last for an extended period of time, typically several years…

Business Management Jonathan Poland

Business Management

Business management is the process of overseeing and running a business or organization. This involves a wide range of activities,…

Design to Logistics Jonathan Poland

Design to Logistics

Design for logistics involves designing products with the entire supply chain in mind, including manufacturing, packaging, shipping, warehousing, merchandising, and…