9780805092646

Scarcity Why Having Too Little Means So Much

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780805092646

  • ISBN10:

    0805092641

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 9/3/2013
  • Publisher: Times Books

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Summary

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.

Author Biography

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
 
Part One: The Scarcity Mindset
     1. Focusing and Tunneling 19
     2. The Bandwidth Tax 39
 
Part Two: Scarcity Creates Scarcity
     3. Packing and Slack 69
     4. Expertise 87
     5. Borrowing and Myopia 105
     6. The Scarcity Trap 123
     7. Poverty 147
 
Part Three: Designing for Scarcity
     8. Improving the Lives of the Poor 167
     9. Managing Scarcity in Organizations 183
     10. Scarcity in Everyday Life 205
    
Conclusion 227
 
Notes 235
Ac­know­ledg­ments 277
Index

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