Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much Hardcover – September 3, 2013
|New from||Used from|
"The Industries of the Future"
Innovation expert Alec Ross explains what’s next for the world. Learn more.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
“Extraordinarily illuminating. . . . Mullainathan and Shafir have made an important, novel, and immensely creative contribution.” ―Cass R. Sunstein, The New York Review of Books
“Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir offer groundbreaking insights into, among other themes, the effects of poverty on cognition and our ability to make choices about our lives.” ―Samantha Power, The Wall Street Journal
“Scarcity is a captivating book, overflowing with new ideas, fantastic stories, and simple suggestions that just might change the way you live.” ―Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics
“Compelling, important … Scarcity is likely to change how you view both entrenched poverty and your own ability -- or inability --to get as much done as you'd like… It's a handy guide for those of us looking to better understand our inability to ever climb out of the holes we dig ourselves, whether related to money, relationships, or time.” ―The Boston Globe
“Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir are stars in their respective disciplines, and the combination is greater than the sum of its parts. Together they manage to merge scientific rigor and a wry view of the human predicament. Their project has a unique feel to it: it is the finest combination of heart and head that I have seen in our field.” ―Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow
“The scarcity phenomenon is good news because to a certain extent, we can design our way around it...What's particularly useful about the idea of scarcity is that it is overarching; ease that burden, and people will be better able to deal with all the rest.” ―The New York Times
“Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir show how the logic of scarcity applies to rich and poor, educated and illiterate, Asian, Western, Hispanic, and African cultures alike. They offer insights that can help us change our individual behavior and that open up an entire new landscape of public policy solutions. A breathtaking achievement!” ―Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor emerita, Princeton University, and president and CEO of the New America Foundation
“A key point of Mullainathan and Shafir's work is that we may all experience different kinds of scarcity, accompanied by the same hyper-narrow focus and costs in lost attention elsewhere.” ―The Atlantic
“Here is a winning recipe. Take a behavioral economist and a cognitive psychologist, each a prominent leader in his field, and let their creative minds commingle. What you get is a highly original and easily readable book that is full of intriguing insights. What does a single mom trying to make partner at a major law firm have in common with a peasant who spends half her income on interest payments? The answer is scarcity. Read this book to learn the surprising ways in which scarcity affects us all.” ―Richard H. Thaler, University of Chicago, coauthor of Nudge
“[Mullainathan and Shafir] examine how having too little of something first inspires focused bursts of creativity and productivity--consider how looming deadlines can motivate us. But a long-term dearth can result in fixations that hinder our decision-making...Less is not necessarily more.” ―Discover Magazine
“With a smooth blend of stories and studies, Scarcity reveals how the feeling of having less than we need can narrow our vision and distort our judgment. This is a book with huge implications for both personal development and public policy.” ―Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
“Scarcity is certain to gain popularity and generate discussion because it hits home. Everyone has experienced scarcity, and the research cited will likely alter every reader's worldview.” ―American Scientist's "Scientists' Bookshelf"
“Insightful, eloquent, and utterly original, Scarcity is the book you can't get enough of. It is essential reading for those who don't have the time for essential reading.” ―Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Stumbling on Happiness
“The book's unified theory of the scarcity mentality is novel in its scope and ambition.” ―The Economist
“A pacey dissection of a potentially life-changing subject.” ―Time Out London
“A succinct, digestible and often delightfully witty introduction to an important new branch of economics.” ―New Statesman
“One of the most significant economics books of the year.” ―Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“The struggle for insufficient resources--time, money, food, companionship--concentrates the mind for better and, mostly, worse, according to this revelatory treatise on the psychology of scarcity . . . The authors support their lucid, accessible argument with a raft of intriguing research . . . and apply it to surprising nudges that remedy everything from hospital overcrowding to financial ignorance . . . Insightful.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
More About the AuthorsDiscover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.
Top Customer Reviews
Still this book was a bit of a disappointment, possibly because I expected so much. A lot of the conclusions are, well, obvious. The book's entire thesis can be summarized as: "People make bad decisions when they are resource-constrained, whether the resources in question are money, time, food, or something else." Some of it recaps what has been said before about hyperbolic discounting in economics.
The book's chapters go like this...
Intro - definition of "scarcity" and overview of its consequences
Chap. 1 - The good: scarcity can cause focus. The bad: focus can mean inattention to other things.
Chap. 2 - Scarcity causes an internal disruption that makes it harder to make good decisions.
Chap. 3 - Slack (the opposite of scarcity) allows better choices and reduces the bad consequences of failiure.
Chap. 4 - Poor people are sometimes more realistic about estimating costs, because they have to be.
Chap. 5 - Borrowing when you're short of cash leads to a descending spiral of debt.
Chap. 6 & 7 - Poverty is a vicious circle of scarcity leading to bad decisions leading to scarcity...
Chap. 8 - Poverty can be alleviated by creating slack, such as extra cash or day care to create more time.
Chap. 9 - Efficient use of resources and division of labor helps organizations become more efficient.
Chap.Read more ›
I've had a saying for years now, "When you're up and life's going your way, the choices are easy. It's the choices you make when you're down on your luck or in failure's grip that says the most about your character--about who you really are." This book is a partial scientific explanation about why this is true. The sections on poverty, especially, demonstrate just how limited the choices are for the poor. Certain groups of people--those in positions of power, the wealthy, the well-educated--they simply have more resources to weather the bumps in life.
I recommend this one. The playing field may never be leveled though that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. What's important is that in the process of doing so we need to be aware that everyone faces life's problems from different starting points and often with a wide variety of advantages and disadvantages.
Understanding this fundamental challenge can help each and every one of us in daily decision-making for ourselves (build in slack if you're busy; set reasonable goals for a diet), but more importantly, encourages us to soften our critique of the poor decisions we judge in others. This book couldn't have arrived at a better time in American politics. I only hope the busy judges among us find the time to read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent, insightful and thought-provoking. This book made me think differently about how scarcity (of time, money or other resources) impacts our minds and our lives. Read morePublished 13 days ago by seattleite
In the vein on Thinking, Fast and Slow, this book highlights the cognitive fallacies we all are prone to make when faced with scarcity (not having enough of something you need). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jeremy W.
This one gave me a lot to think about, and I have found myself applying what I've read here to my life every so often, something I definitely didn't expect. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marianne
A fascinating and thought provoking book. It's not just about poverty; it's about shortages of time and energy that affect highly productive people. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Charles Walbridge
Excellent content, but it would be more useful if more concise. Come on guys! You knew you needed to invest more time in editing.Published 2 months ago by Beverly Rainforth
A neat way of reinterpreting existing results and probably a better metaphor than our current metaphors - Humans as computers with limited bandwidth and scarce resources. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gadget Wallah
You'll get the idea in the first 10 pages.. good luck trying to stay awake for the rest. Overblown intellectual readingPublished 3 months ago by Indian Burned