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Publisher's Summary

In the blockbuster tradition of Freakonomics, a Harvard economist and a Princeton psychology professor team up to offer a surprising and empowering new way to look at everyday life, presenting a paradigm-challenging 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 are examples of a mindset 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.

©2013 Ellen Hopkins (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Super interesting. Time to start saving money.

Love it. While lots of people complain about the weak economy, high employment rate, and too many people drawing welfare, they don't put themselves into a situation where scarcity, tunneling are hurting those poor people. This book provided a unique perspective on tackling social problem, public administration, business issues. Strongly recommended to friends and family. Much betyer than reading celebrity's biography.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

now I understand me

helped me to understand my own habits and why I have them. Very insightful, made me want to change.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Totally paradigm-changing

I loved Robert Petkoff's narration, but more than that the content of this book gave me a new model to apply to many things. I've been exploring it in my blog, in my journal, and in my life, and I found their humility engaging as they explored this "new" idea of scarcity. Highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyed this book, very useful life skill

Would you listen to Scarcity again? Why?

This covered different kinds of scarcity including time. It had actual studies about how people behaved differently when they perceived they had a scarcity in an area as well as how they didn't plan well when perceived surplus.

What did you like best about this story?

The examples and how humans make different decisions and often bad decisions when perceiving scarcity/surplus.

Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No. I really enjoyed this performance.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

How decisions are affected with perceived scarcity.

Any additional comments?

Great job. Wealth of info. I can use this in my life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A must read that I will read again and share

This book is very informative and holds useful information for everyone, literally. From the rich to the poor, highly educated to the uneducated, the information in this tool should be in every home, degree program, social service provider and boardroom.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

All theory

While the authors did their research they fail to offer practical advice to make the learnings relevant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Well-written and extremely interesting

I enjoyed this entire book. The authors do a great job explaining economic concepts for a lay audience. While there are some political implications to their theories and they do suggest som policy approaches, they do a good job of not getting lost in the tall weeds of politics outside of a social science tool. As for content, I wondered at times if there is a component of applying new terminology to some standard economic principles. But, they present historical and new data from empirical studies that are very impressive to me as not being classically trained in the science of economics (aka, the study of scarcity).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating and insightful

Very well-researched, this book pulls together a lot of smart ideas, and inspires helpful introspection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

too repetitive

the contents could've been delivered in half the chapters. the subject is important and interesting, but the book has too much repeated content. we get it! scarcity reduces mental bandwidth to a high degree, do we need a million chapters to repeat that?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shahar
  • Even Yehuda, Israel
  • 10-07-16

thought provoking and applicable to everyday life.

This book made me think about my life and about the people around me in a different way. As a clinical psychologist, it made me think differently about my clients and address their problems according to the scarcity psychology. highly recommended

3 of 4 people found this review helpful