Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan
Why Having Too Little Means So Much

80%

8 Critic Reviews

To paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, “For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.” People who enjoyed the bestselling Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt will find this book equally fascinating.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

A surprising and intriguing examination of how scarcity—and our flawed responses to it—shapes our lives, our society, and our culture

Why do successful people get things done at the last minute? Why does poverty persist? Why do organizations get stuck firefighting? Why do the lonely find it hard to make friends? These questions seem unconnected, yet Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir show that they are all examples of a mind-set produced by scarcity.

Drawing on cutting-edge research from behavioral science and economics, Mullainathan and Shafir show that scarcity creates a similar psychology for everyone struggling to manage with less than they need. Busy people fail to manage their time efficiently for the same reasons the poor and those maxed out on credit cards fail to manage their money. The dynamics of scarcity reveal why dieters find it hard to resist temptation, why students and busy executives mismanage their time, and why sugarcane farmers are smarter after harvest than before. Once we start thinking in terms of scarcity and the strategies it imposes, the problems of modern life come into sharper focus.
Mullainathan and Shafir discuss how scarcity affects our daily lives, recounting anecdotes of their own foibles and making surprising connections that bring this research alive. Their book provides a new way of understanding why the poor stay poor and the busy stay busy, and it reveals not only how scarcity leads us astray but also how individuals and organizations can better manage scarcity for greater satisfaction and success.

 

About Sendhil Mullainathan

See more books from this Author
Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard University, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" and conducts research on development economics, behavioral economics, and corporate finance. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Eldar Shafir is the William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He conducts research in cognitive science, judgment and decision-making, and behavioral economics. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
 
Published September 3, 2013 by Times Books. 302 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Scarcity
All: 8 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Jun 17 2013

An intriguing discussion of poverty and scarcity that uses the tools of behavioral economics and offers some different approaches to mitigation...An appealing, very different approach to a pressing problem.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 10 2013

Mullainaithan and Shafir present an insightful, humane alternative to character-based accounts of dysfunctional behavior, one that shifts the spotlight from personal failings to the involuntary psychic disabilities that chronic scarcity inflicts on everyone.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Sep 07 2013

Though the book lacks the killer anecdotal "stickiness" of a Malcolm Gladwell or a Kahneman, Scarcity does give scientific rigour to our instinctive understanding of the effect of privation (and austerity) on the brain...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Oliver Burkeman on Aug 23 2013

The overall result is a rather odd but ultimately humane and very welcome book. Presenting itself as yet another "big idea" tome that will reveal the unexpected force that explains the world, Scarcity ends up reaffirming one of the oldest truths: that what really explains the world is its division into haves and have-nots.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 10 2013

Mullainaithan and Shafir present an insightful, humane alternative to character-based accounts of dysfunctional behavior, one that shifts the spotlight from personal failings to the involuntary psychic disabilities that chronic scarcity inflicts...

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Jane Haile on Mar 23 2015

To paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie in her prime, “For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.” People who enjoyed the bestselling Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt will find this book equally fascinating.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Tim Harford on Sep 06 2013

This whole scarcity business is new and somewhat speculative. But one cannot help feeling that they are on to something. Scarcity made me think differently about money, food, and how I manage my own time. And for all its flaws, a book that changes the way you see the world is valuable – and scarce.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from Financial Times

The Economist

Above average
Reviewed by The Economist on Aug 31 2013

It is, however, easy to enjoy the book’s many vignettes and insights, leaving it to others with more bandwidth to fit it all together.

Read Full Review of Scarcity: Why Having Too Litt... | See more reviews from The Economist

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Malinda Charter 5 Oct 2013

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