Christmas Gift Spending by Country

The Economist features an interesting chart this week, showing the correlation between a country’s wealth, and the average amount its citizens spend on Christmas gifts. Note the two outliers, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Despite their considerable wealth, the Dutch have clearly maintained their minimalist austerity chic. Not the case in Luxembourg, which has the highest GDP per capita in the EU, and the third highest in the world. So, while you may get a pair of wooden shoes for the holidays from that Dutch relative of yours, that Luxembourgian uncle stands to be much more generous.

It’s also worth noting America’s position. Despite considerably less per capita wealth, we appear to be spending only about $70 less per person than the Luxembourgers. Interesting also that despite their crushing debt woes, the Irish are big givers, at least compared to their PIGS companions: Portugal, Greece and Spain.

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  1. mhenner says:

    You omitted the comments in the Economist posting:
    – the first of which noted that the Dutch also do a lot of gifting on December 5, their Sinterklaus day, so of course the figures of what they give for Christmas are skewed.

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  2. Andreas Moser says:

    And Christmas spending doesn’t even have any positive effect on the economy overall:

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  3. Shane says:

    Regarding Ireland, the debt concerns are a relatively new thing, while the drift towards spending lots at Christmas built up over many years. Cultures are not necessarily very responsive to economic climate I guess.

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  4. Donnie says:

    Given that trend, you would expect the Luxembourgers to be giving ~$1250/person, rather than only ~$800/person.

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  5. Kevin says:

    Since only 10 people live in Luxembourg, that country’s results are bound not to be statistically significant.

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  6. Gangstead says:

    Why is GDP on the Y-axis and spending on the X-axis? Seems backwards.

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    • Mike says:

      Completely agree. The message I get out of this are that both the Dutch and Luxembourgians are stingy when it comes to holiday gifts, in relation to how much money they have at their disposal.

      Interchanging the axes would show that very clearly.

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  7. Marcel says:

    Treating the Netherlands as an outlier, you most probably ignore the fact that the Dutch spend most of their gift money on Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), whose birthday is celebrated on December 5th and is THE children’s event of the year. Therefore, Christmas spending concentrates on food, as the majority of Dutch families have no money left to spend on gifts.

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    • Adam says:

      If I’d read this post prior to posting mine, I wouldn’t have needed to post. Nice work Marcel :)

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    • Rob says:

      Well, actually Sinterklaas’ birthday is on 6 dec, but all gifts are unpacked on ‘sinterklaasavond’ (Santa Claus Eve).

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    • Xenos says:

      As a parent in Luxembourg, I can report that the main day for Sant (‘Kleeschen’) presents is also on December 6, so the Economist must have accounted for that. Additionally, Legos are very expensive here, as are most consumer products.

      Wine and beer, however, are quite cheap. So presents cost more but parties are much cheaper to put on. Not a bad trade-off.

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  8. Adam says:

    I believe the Dutch austerity measures have played a role in the Netherlands being in the bottom. However, considering the modern day Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch, what might this say about the adopters of said figure? Might the Dutch simply be keeping with tradition in celebrating St. Nicholas on December 5-6 and buying presents mainly for children instead of all family/friends? That would certainly keep spending lower than other countries…

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