Guardian on Gift-Giving


“The economics of gift-giving: Of crackers and turkeys”

『ガーディアン』の社説(Editorial)。クリスマス・プレゼントを非難する米国の経済学者Joel Waldfogel*2への反論。曰く、

(…) Exchanging gifts is never just about cash values; they are a means to curry favour, or to reciprocate a good deed or simply to show someone you care. In short, gift-giving is the action of a social creature rather than an economic one – and it is a practice that predates the invention of money. One should not get too misty-eyed about yuletide gift-giving, of course: it is the festival of consumerism that critics complain about. But the exchange of cold hard cash or vouchers, as Professor Waldfogel advocates, would do nothing to mitigate those pressures. File his ideas on that part of the economics bookshelf titled "ingenious solutions to questions that no one was asking". Then get on with enjoying all those baffling presents from your nearest and dearest.
また、Joel Waldfogelの著書Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidaysの概要は、

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.