It’s Phil’s 50th birthday and Jay decides to try and sneak a gift to Phill that Cam had given him before. What Jay doesn’t realize is that Cam had inscribed the front cover and as Phil begins to red the inscription, Cam recognizes it is the same book that he gave Jay before. Giving gifts can be seen as wasteful if the giver doesn’t fully know the recipients preferences and willingness to pay. The entire family tends to give each other gifts that the others don’t always want, but this time Jay didn’t even take the time to open the book in the first place.
See more: deadweight loss, exchange, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, self interest, subjective value
Cam and Mitch have decided to get Jay and Gloria a special gift for Gloria’s impending birth. Jay and Gloria have both created a registry of gifts they would like, but Cam has decided to go “off registry” because he believes Jay and Gloria don’t really know what they want. Mitch seems concerned that they will not appreciate it.
One of the issues with gift giving is that the parties have imperfect information about what the other will value the gift at. Economists love to focus on the inefficiency of gift giving and often suggest just exchanging money.
See more: altruism, gift giving, imperfect information, irrationality, rationality
Phil has to decide whether to leave his own firm and start his own with two old co-workers, but he only has a limited amount of time to decide. He remembers that he is not good under pressure by recalling a time that he bought an alpaca because it was the last one and he panicked. Sometimes people may not make rational decisions because of bounded rationality, whereby they have to make a judgement in a hurry and don’t have time to fully weight all of the costs and benefits. Phil appears to fall victim to this fairly regularly, as evidenced by his decision to buy an alpaca once.
See more: bounded rationality, choices, cost benefit analysis, irrationality, rationality, tradeoffs
Phil finds gift certificates to a spa that he and Claire had won in a charity auction in a drawer, but they expire that day. He wants Claire to use them because otherwise their money just goes to charity, but Claire doesn’t know how she will find the time to be able to go. Phil is falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy, while Claire is thinking in terms of the additional costs and benefits of using the certificates before they expire.
See more: altruism, irrationality, opportunity cost, rationality, sunk cost, tradeoffs
The Dunphy’s call Phil’s parents in the sweaters they were given as gifts. The call goes awry when Claire sees what looks like a cigarette burn in the sofa. In her anger she calls the sweaters ugly while still on the phone with Phil’s dad. One of the issues with gift giving is that the receivers wouldn’t purchase the items they receive for the same price that the buyers paid for the item. On top of the inefficiency from an exchange point of view, there are psychic costs associated with acting like you enjoy the gift as well.
See more: altruism, gift giving, irrationality, preferences, rationality
Phil surprises Claire with a new bracelet for their anniversary and Claire reciprocates with coupons for 5 free hugs, which Phil points out are usually free already. Claire is proud of her gift because Phil never wants anything, but Phil can list off many things he would like. Gift giving can be inefficient if it’s the two givers aren’t fully aware of the others’ preferences.
See more: coupons, exchange, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, medium of exchange, preferences, store of value, unit of account, wants
Luke was supposed to keep a journal all summer, but when school starts again in the Fall, he realizes he only did one day. At the start of the summer, Luke’s focus on the present imposed large negative externalities on him when it’s time to turn in the work later in the summer. People who highly value present consumption are said to have high discount rates because they don’t care about future outcomes as much. This hyperbolic discounting can result in some inconsistencies when Luke looks back and realizes how much trouble he’s about to be in.
See more: discounting, irrationality, negative externalities, present oriented, procrastination, time inconsistency
Cam gives his mother in-law a pair of diamond earrings, but she reciprocates by giving him exercise equipment and salad drier. Cam doesn’t appear to think that the two gifts were of equal value, which shows how gift giving can be considered inefficient.
See more: deadweight loss, exchange, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality
Cam and Mitch went on vacation to celebrate their Honeymoon and brought back gifts to the family. For Jay, they brought a cheesy golfing frog statue, but also with an illness. Jay views the frog statue so poorly that considers it possible the illness is a better gift. Economists like to discuss irrationality of gift giving because we often spend money on gifts for people at a higher value than they would spend on themselves. A second concept at play in the clip is that Cam & Mitch’s trip to Mexico added additional costs on the family through the spread of an illness. Had Mitchell known he would have gotten the family sick, he may not have left.
See more: exchange, externalities, gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, negative externalities, subjective value
It’s time for Jay and Gloria to exchange gifts and Jay is anxious about his gift from his wife. He struggles finding the right gift because it always seems like a competition. If the two didn’t exchange gifts then the extra psychic costs wouldn’t exist. It turns out that Gloria actually really loves Jay’s gift, but Jay really wanted that watch.
See more: gift giving, inefficiency, irrationality, psychic costs, subjective value