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Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Homo Economicus Christmas

Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of Freakonomics, likes to say that economists are a strange bunch, which is one of the reasons why over the last few years, he has featured something about economists and Christmas on one of his podcasts. As Dubner puts it, "It’s the latest in our annual series of explanations about how economists can take all the fun out of the holidays." This year ("Have a Very Homo Economicus Christmas"), Dubner asks economists how they go about their holiday shopping. In the podcast you'll hear from Steven Levitt (Dubner's Freakonomics co-author), Alex Tabarrok (who wants gifts directed to his “wild self”), Justin Wolfers (who has written about Christmas efficiency); and Joel Waldfogel (who's written a well-known paper, “Deadweight Loss of Christmas,” and book about gift-giving, "Scroogenomics).

In addition you may be interested in Cass Sunstein's article "Holiday Shopping Tips From Behavioral Economists"). Sunstein is currently a professor of law at Harvard and for a time worked in the Obama Administration. His article is a bit more practical and won't take all of the "fun" out of shopping for others.

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