text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
News Archive
News by Research Area
Arctic & Antarctic
Astronomy & Space
Biology
Chemistry & Materials
Computing
Earth & Environment
Education
Engineering
Mathematics
Nanoscience
People & Society
Physics
 

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 11-269
United States Ranks 20th in Holiday Spending

Americans typically spend $70 billion more in December than in November and January

Illustration of an old man wearing a top hat holding a Christmas stocking filled with cash.

Americans typically spend $70 billion more in December than in November.
Credit and Larger Version

December 22, 2011

View a webcast with University of Minnesota economist Joel Waldfogel.

Americans typically spend $70 billion more in December than in the average of November and January (the months around December). In a recent National Science Foundation-sponsored interview, Joel Waldfogel, the Carlson School's Frederick R. Kappel Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota uses that increase to measure the amount of holiday gift-giving. This level of spending is lower than in other countries. "We're about the 20th largest in terms of countries in the world," said Waldfogel, referencing how much U.S. December spending increases.

Waldfogel is the author of Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays. He notes that even though the U.S. economy has grown since the turn of the last century, the amount of U.S. spending in December (relative to November and January) has not kept pace with that growth. The extra spending in December is less as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product than it has been at any time over the last 75 years.

He makes an additional point that the impact of this spending is even smaller if measured by the satisfaction it produces. The reason, he said, is simple: "The problem with gift giving is that somebody is going out and spending $100 on someone else and if the giver does not know exactly what the recipient wants, it is possible for the giver to spend $100 and buy something the recipient would only be willing to pay $50 or perhaps nothing for."

This type of gift giving, said Waldfogel, undermines economically efficient choices. "Whatever amount of spending occurs, it results in less satisfaction than could have occurred if people bought stuff for themselves," which, he claims, results in the loss of billions of dollars in economic value to the overall economy.

Please visit "How buying gifts and personal satisfaction affect the world economy" on the National Science Foundation's website to see Waldfogel's complete interview.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8485, bmixon@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Joel Waldfogel, University of Minnesota, (612) 626-7128, jwaldfog@umn.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Image of University of Minnesota economist Joel Waldfogel.
View Video
Joel Waldfogel discusses holiday spending.
Credit and Larger Version



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page