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Scroogenomics
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Joel Waldfogel is one of the smartest and funniest economists on the planet. I think of him every time I start to unwrap a present. Buy Scroogenomics for your friends and family. It makes the perfect Christmas gift. -- Ian Ayres, author of "Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart" Scroogenomics is a very well-written and entertaining read. -- Diane Coyle, author of "The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters"

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

About the Author

Joel Waldfogel is the Ehrenkranz Professor and Chair of Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of "The Tyranny of the Market" and has been a columnist for Slate.

Reviews

"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 "Waldfogel assesses holiday gift giving though the lens of economic tenets such as opportunity costs and deadweight loss. The result is a short but engaging manifesto on the inefficiency of the tradition, concluding with several solutions to increase satisfaction for both givers and receivers. Although his own suggestions mandate that you not buy this book for someone who wanted something else, fans of Freakonomics and The Economic Naturalist may love it."--Library Journal "[A] handsome little book... Waldfogel is, if not a unique, then certainly a rare economist."--Australian "Nobody has done more to damage relations between the joyous commercial festival that is Christmas and the economics profession than Joel Waldfogel. Long-term readers of this column will be well aware of Professor Waldfogel's research paper, 'The Deadweight Loss of Christmas'. Ever since it was published in 1993 it has been taken out by economic journalists and displayed like last year's decorations. Waldfogel--a witty writer himself--has evidently decided that if everyone is going to discuss the idea, he may as well get in on the act, so has published Scroogenomics, a book that--dare I say it--looks like it would make a terrific stocking-filler."--Tim Harford, Financial Times "And now, in a new book called Scroogenomics, a U.S. economist has helpfully done the math on the holiday he declares, as only an economist would, an 'organized institution for value destruction.'"--Erin Anderssen, Globe & Mail "You would have thought that a book entitled Scroogenomics, which has been published in a recession and exhorts us to give up buying presents this Christmas, would do so from a spirit of, if not outright meanness, then at least heartfelt thrift. But Professor Joel Waldfogel instead uses a rather arch economic formula to explain why giving presents is a complete waste of time."--Rosie Millard, New Statesman "[A]n interesting and provocative book."--Times Higher Education "[Scroogenomics] is a nicely-timed stocking filler from the man who estimates that badly-chosen Christmas presents will waste the equivalent of $25bn across the world this year."--Tim Harford, Prospect "Written in a breezy, engaging style (he quotes Homer Simpson, not Friedrich von Hayek), Waldfogel's book attempts to quantify the cost to society of millions of Grandmas, Aunt Beas, and Uncle Charlies bestowing incorrect sweaters, candles, and other dud gifts, and presents a couple of options to reduce that loss."--Baltimore City Paper "[F]ar from being Scrooge-like, Scroogenomics points out that we could do something much more useful with our money, such as redistribute it to those who really need it."--The Age "Leave it to an economist to trample on a cherished year-long tradition. Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, has written a book that promoters hype as one 'Santa doesn't want you to read.' Scroogenomics is a brief but biting little book about how our obsession with holiday spending generates some $85 billion dollars of economic waste each winter... Waldfogel doesn't just stomp on tradition. He offers solutions, such as charity gift cards that can be used as a force for good, and suggests transferring balances on regular store gift cards to charities after a certain time rather than let them go unredeemed."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution "If you're heading for the stores today, keep one thing in mind: Many of the gifts you buy today are likely unwanted. In his new book Scroogenomics, University of Pennsylvania economist Joel Waldfogel warns that most of us are not so great at gift-giving. He has data to back it up, and he offers a solution."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram "Joel Waldfogel has meticulously quantified the spirit of Christmas, giving in to a set of numbers and percentages that may discourage even the most enthusiastic Black Friday shopper this year. In his book Scroogenomics, he tells you why you should think twice before your holiday shopping spree, and why it's not better to give an unwanted beaded sweater or talking fish than no present at all."--Deseret News "My enthusiasm for buying gifts has been greatly reduced ... after reading Scroogenomics."--Shanghai Daily "This 186-page pocketbook measures just 4 by 6 inches in size, and invites readers to think just as small when it comes to holiday excess. Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, goes beyond the obvious in arguing against habitual gift-giving."--Mark Jewell, Associated Press "This is a serious study of the economics of Christmas. It looks at the huge waste involved, looks back to earlier times and how previous generations celebrated the festive season, even suggests that buying presents should stop and then attempts to offer some solutions as to how Christmas can be a time of giving without being a time 'to max out our credit cards to finance the gift storm.'"--Sydney Morning Herald "Oftentimes in days of yore, I would sit by the fireside at Noel, glass of sherry I hand, warm, confused feeling in head, and survey the detritus of a Christmas-morning blitzkrieg of unwrapping and the shrapnel of packaging genocide and think: what a waste of money. Being of a naturally grump disposition, my attitude was habitually put down to an anti-Christmas 'Bah! Humbug!' tendency. But now here comes Joel Waldfogel to barge his way to the top of my (short) Christmas-card list telling everyone who sneered at my festive dispiritedness that I was right all along."--Stephen McCarty, South China Morning Post "It's blinding. Put it on your Christmas list."--Dan Douglass, Marketing Direct "[I]n his recent book Scroogenomics, Professor Waldfogel makes a knowingly provocative case for changing the entire cursed gift system."--Guardian "If Joel Waldfogel is correct, the Three Wise Men were just the sort of people who should not have bought Christmas presents."--Irish Times "If you enjoy the title, you will enjoy the book."--Declann Trott, Economic Record

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