- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (October 25, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691142645
- ISBN-13: 978-0691142647
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Waldfogel (The Tyranny of the Market) 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. Purchases are usually a zero-sum game—a $50 sweater is bought only when it is worth $50 or more to the consumer. But most gifts are relatively worthless to the less-than-enthused recipient, thus severing the link between the buying decision and the item's value. Addressing the $66 billion in retail sales during the 2007 Christmas season, the author's bewilderment is evident when he asks—would anyone buy this stuff for himself or herself? does anybody want it?—and answers his own question with a quote suggesting that gift giving may be too firmly entrenched to budge: 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 back in 1850. This lively, spot-on book may be the one gift that still makes sense to buy come Black Friday. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Top customer reviews
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According to Scroogenomics, it seems that all the gift giving around the Christmas season is lots of wasted time and wasted effort and wasted money. It would be better to just give the recipient cash or, better yet, give it to charity.
I like the premise (I am so over the gift giving thing) but the writing is really pretty dry. No doubt the economist in your family will love this book. If you have the stamina, it's really not that long and it's small (thus, making it a great stocking stuffer). Go ahead and get it.
In the end, I have concluded, gifts don't equal a replacement for love. If you really want to show love, say something nice to someone. Tell them verbally what they mean, DO something. Not give junk that has a 99% chance of being wasted.
I was rather stunned to learn how long the pattern of massive holiday buying has been going on, and I was equally surprised to learn that it's a nearly global problem. I had no idea. I thought it was limited to my family.
I especially appreciate Waldfogel's suggestions for alternate gift-giving. The charity gift card suggestion is especially appealing to me. Thanks, professor, for taking on this task. You'll likely be vilified a bit. Courage.
In a perfect world, everyone would put a lot of thought and effort into their gift buying decisions. But that doesn't happen; not to belittle the efforts that people make, which are often very much in earnest, but the average person is likely so caught up in their own day-to-day life that they really aren't as in tune with the people they know as they think. Even family members rarely truly know what others like or want - ask any teenager on that one.
As someone who has spent his adult life trying to make very personal gift choices, I have come to learn two valuable things: One, even when I think I know someone well, I still don't live inside of that person's head and thus can never truly look at something from his or her perspective, and never fully know how much or little they appreciated it; and two, since about the age of twelve, I have rarely received gifts that I valued as much as the gift giver probably expected (and most often, I have found the gifts more unwanted than anything and a waste of the natural resources used to make them from my personal world view).
Whether the giver has been family or friend or lover, unless it was something I had already expressly showed a desire for, the gifts have most often missed the mark; and sometimes when asked for specific gift ideas, the buyer chooses a different brand or version (sometimes even a more expensive option) thinking it just as good, when in fact is not what I wanted, which leads to disappointment. I greatly dislike the whole gift idea list as it proves the point - if I have to give you a list (and vice-versa) I am better off just buying it for myself as would anyone I would be buying gifts for.
The best gift is the one that is least expected; one, because since it is not expected, disappointment is not likely; and two, because the gift given unexpectedly is often the one that has had the most thought put into.
Since our society is not likely to reverse course in the foreseeable future and remove the expectations of Christmas gift giving (and return to a celebration of the season as in olden days - we're talking hundreds of years here), I believe that the gift card is the absolute best solution and will be the only thing I list to my family (I only provide the list because ignoring the repeated requests for one is usually more effort than just providing one), and is likely the only gifts I will be giving this year - luckily, I know exactly where my family likes to shop AND they know exactly what they want or need.
There is one other option, and that is addressed well in a great companion book to this one: The Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben: Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For A More Joyful Christmas. In this nice little book, Bill McKibben calls for a less wasteful Christmas that is more focused on the joy of spending time with family and friends and where the gift giving is restricted to a family total of $100 and where handmade gifts are strongly preferred.
In the end, I have changed my entire approach to life and it is centered around Less Stuff, More Experience.
UPDATE: There has been a lot of action in the comments area for reviews for this book, and it has mostly focused on the central theme of the book: whether to give gifts or not. I just wanted to add a little to my review by saying that this book also spends some time analyzing Christmas spending as whole from the use of credit cards to finance Christmas gift buying (as compared to "out-dated" ideas such as Christmas Clubs and Layaway) to whether the thought that the United States is the most consumptive nation during Christmas is true (should I ruin it for you? You might me surprised by the answers to this question). This book is more than a one dimensional look at Christmas.
A Guide to my Book Rating System:
1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.
Most recent customer reviews
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I like the charity and gift certificate ideas, I prefer that too.