Why do Economists hate gifts so much? Gift giving isn’t efficient, but what is worse, most times it does not meet the overlying goal which is to create a more meaningful relationship.
The Indicator podcast explored this theme in their episode “The Efficient Christmas: Why Economists Hate Gifts” . And they discuss that what is clear about gifts is that people don’t like getting random unthoughtful gifts. It’s worse than getting no gift. But how do you know what to get? Enter the wish list: “… [A]cademic research gathered by Francesca Gino and Francis Flynn [shows that] people receiving the gifts loved getting gifts off their wishlist.”
During the interview Tim Harford accurately and pessimistically explains Christmas like so:
“The economy exists to serve us. …[I]f a big chunk of the economy is devoted to people running around in cramped conditions under a lot of stress, working really hard to buy each other stuff they don’t actually want [then] we’re better off without that part of the economy.”
A good podcast where they teach children (7th Grade) about measuring efficiency (economic happiness): http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/12/23/144195081/the-friday-podcast-why-economists-hate-gifts