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Real economists at Naked Capitalism
Waldfogel followed up with another paper in 2002, showing on the basis of a survey of both holiday gifts and items consumers purchase for themselves that consumers' own purchases generate between 10 and 18% more value, per dollar spent, than items received as gifts. These estimates, Waldfold argues, support economists' faith in consumer sovereignty, place some limit on the reach of the behaviouralist critique of economics, and, in addition, confirm the substantial deadweight loss of Christmas. A 2006 paper by Lerouge and Warlop compounds the argument by stating that many buying decisions require predictions of another person's product attitude but consumers are often inaccurate predictors, even for familiar others. They provide evidence that target familiarity can even hurt accuracy in the presence of attitude feedback.

Again in 1993, John L. Solow wrote an opposite take titled "Is it Really the Thought that Counts?: Toward a Rational Theory of Christmas". While acknowledging that as a social institution, the exchange of goods as gifts is difficult to reconcile with the theory of rational choice, Solow argued that when individuals' utilities depend on others' consumption of particular goods, gifts of goods can be preferable to gifts of money. Solow's is therefore an externality-based argument, according to which gift-giving can indeed be a Pareto-superior equilibrium of non-cooperative individual behaviour. Altruism - defined in economic sense in the work by Beker (1981) - does not suffice to explain Christmas gift-giving, because it implies that cash is still optimal. The explanation, Solow argues, is to be found in the concept of paternalism (or "paternalistic preferences", as in Pollak [1988]), i.e. the notion that the utility of one individual can depend on the quantities of goods consumed by other individuals.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Dec 27th, 2018 at 06:24:10 PM EST

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