Trade

Episode 238: Making Christmas More Joyful, And More Efficient

Economist Joel Waldfogel estimates that U.S. holiday gift giving destroys about $13 billion worth of value.

Economist Joel Waldfogel estimates that U.S. holiday gift giving destroys about $13 billion worth of value. www.metaphoricalplatypus.com/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption www.metaphoricalplatypus.com/Flickr

This episode was originally released on December 21, 2010.

Gift-giving makes economists crazy. It's so inefficient!

So we wondered: Is there a way to make the holiday season both more efficient and more joyful?

On today's Planet Money, we try to answer that question by conducting a wildly unscientific experiment. We go into a seventh-grade classroom and give a bunch of kids some small gifts — candy, raisins, fig newtons.

Then we ask them how much they value what they got, and if they can think of a way to make everyone better off, without buying any more gifts. They quickly arrive at a solution: trade.

Behold, the power of economics!

Download the Planet Money iPhone App. Music: Kayne West's "Christmas In Harlem." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify/ Tumblr.

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