Trade

Why Economists Hate Gifts

Students show off the results of their trades.

hide captionStudents show off the results of their trades.

Caitlin Kenney/NPR

Giving and receiving gifts can be a joyful thing — unless you're an economist. All those books that will never be read and ties that will never be worn are hugely inefficient.

To investigate a possible solution, we went to a seventh-grade classroom at a public school in Brooklyn.

The students were already familiar with the issue.

"This is kind of silly, but I got a Power Ranger," Tadre Jones said. "I was grateful, but I didn't really like it."

So we had no trouble conscripting 10 kids to participate in an economic experiment that aimed to improve the efficiency of gift giving.

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