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Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays
Joel Waldfogel

Hardcover | 2009 | $9.95 | £8.95 | ISBN: 9780691142647
192 pp. | 4 x 6
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400831258 |
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Audiobook | 2009 | ISBN: 9781400830749

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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.


"Leave it to an economist to make an impassioned argument for why we shouldn't give gifts, especially during the holidays."--Los Angeles Times

"[A] small but very well-written and well-argued book which makes some serious points as well as poking fun at the nightmare of Christmas shopping. . . . Point by point the author demolishes the case for giving gifts. In fact, this is a very sensible book on every level."--Times Literary Supplement

"Waldfogel delivers a badly needed poke in the eye at holiday-time consumer madness, positing that not only is compulsory gift giving stressful and expensive, but it's economically unsound. . . . This lively, spot-on book may be the one gift that still makes sense to buy come Black Friday."--Publishers Weekly

"Scroogenomics is a quick read. Not only is it well under 200 pages, but the book can easily fit in your pocket. This is no think volume intended to scare off non-economists. Better still, Scroogenomics is almost entirely free of jargon. And when technical terms do appear, they are immediately explained."--Ryan Young, Washington Times

"Another huge, value-destroying hurricane is about to slam America, destroying billions of dollars of value. Another Katrina? No, another Christmas. This voluntary December calamity is explained in a darkly amusing little book that is about the size of an iPhone. Scroogenomics comes from a distinguished publisher, Princeton University Press, and an eminent author, Joel Waldfogel of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school."--George Will, Washington Post

"In his new book, Scroogenomics--a perfect stocking-filler--Waldfogel argues that buying presents is no longer a luxury but a necessity because the social pressure is immense."--John-Paul Flintoff, Sunday Times

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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: Spending and Satisfaction 6
CHAPTER THREE: U.S. Holiday Spending 23
CHAPTER FOUR: How Much Waste Occurs at Christmas? 29
CHAPTER FIVE: Why We Do It: Are Gift Recipients Crackheads, or What? 41
CHAPTER SIX: Giving and Waste around the World 57
CHAPTER SEVEN: A Century of American Yuletide Spending 71
CHAPTER EIGHT: Have Yourself a Borrowed Little Christmas 78
CHAPTER NINE: Is Christmas Like Spam, Underwear, or Caviar? 89
CHAPTER TEN: Christmas and Commercialism: Are Santa and Jesus on the Same Team? If So, Who's Team Captain? 99
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Stop Carping; It's All for the Best 104
CHAPTER TWELVE: Making Giving More Effi cient with Cash
and Gift Cards 113
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Giving and Redistribution 120
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Solutions --Making Gift Giving a Force for Good 134
Notes 147
Index 171

This book has been translated into:

  • Japanese
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Complex)
  • German
  • Italian

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