It’s not just Scrooge who wants Christmas abolished

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.

Waldfogel’s central insight is that if I give you a £50 shirt for Christmas, and you hate the shirt, that is £50 wasted. This is the “deadweight loss” of Christmas, and Waldfogel’s original research suggested that the typical £50 gift is worth no more than £35-£43 to the lucky recipient, a deadweight loss of about 15 to 30 per cent.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

The Undercover Economist: a guide

Publishing schedule: Excerpts from "The Undercover Economist" and "Dear Economist", Tim's weekly columns for the FT Magazine, are published on this blog on Saturday mornings.
More about Tim: Tim also writes editorials for the FT, presents Radio 4's More or Less and is the author of "The Undercover Economist" and "The Logic of Life".
Comment: To comment, please register with FT.com, which you can do for free here. Please also read our comments policy here.
Contact: Tim's contact address is: economist@ft.com
Time: UK time is shown on posts.
Follow: A link to the blog's RSS feeds is at the top of the page.
Follow on Twitter
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.