Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays

Book - 2009
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Christmas is a time of seasonal cheer, family get-togethers, holiday parties, and-gift giving. Lots and lots--and lots--of gift giving. It's hard to imagine any Christmas without this time-honored custom. But let's stop to consider the gifts we receive--the rooster sweater from Grandma or the singing fish from Uncle Mike. How many of us get gifts we like? How many of us give gifts not knowing what recipients want? Did your cousin really look excited about that jumping alarm clock? Lively and informed, Scroogenomics illustrates how our consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste--to the shocking tune of eighty-five billion dollars each winter. Economist Joel Waldfogel provides solid explanations to show us why it's time to stop the madness and think twice before buying gifts for the holidays.

When we buy for ourselves, every dollar we spend produces at least a dollar in satisfaction, because we shop carefully and purchase items that are worth more than they cost. Gift giving is different. We make less-informed choices, max out on credit to buy gifts worth less than the money spent, and leave recipients less than satisfied, creating what Waldfogel calls "deadweight loss." Waldfogel indicates that this waste isn't confined to Americans--most major economies share in this orgy of wealth destruction. While recognizing the difficulties of altering current trends, Waldfogel offers viable gift-giving alternatives.

By reprioritizing our gift-giving habits, Scroogenomics proves that we can still maintain the economy without gouging our wallets, and reclaim the true spirit of the holiday season.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2009.
ISBN: 9780691142647
Characteristics: 173 p. ; 16 cm.


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Dec 14, 2014

I think there are better arguments for toning down the commercialism and consumption around Christmas. Waldfogel, an economist, brings in abstract concepts such as "satisfaction value," and attempts to quantify some rather intangible characteristics of gift giving. This just proves that economists aren't like the rest of us. But on his argument's own merits, he completely misses the value that giving gifts bestows on the giver--even if the gift itself isn't something especially desirable to the recipient. The book does have some intriguing facts about holiday consumption, and some interesting history. D you think that this over-consumption is something new? "There are worlds of money wasted, at this time of year, in getting things that nobody wants, and nobody cares for after they are got." That's Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1850!


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