There’s an interesting article, Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function, by Anandi Mani et al in the current issue of Science.
Here’s the abstract:
“The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.”
The full article is behind a pay wall.
Here in America, we live in a society which could eliminate poverty, but we don’t. Instead, we blame poor people for their plight, and when they become depressed or agitated or aggressive, or do things that we consider dysfunctional, we give them drugs. The profits of the drug companies and their psychiatric shills are routinely afforded a higher priority than helping people find a sense of meaning and fulfillment in their lives, as well as the means to a decent standard of living.
It is not an accident that poor people are over-represented in the ranks of the “mentally ill.”
Oliver Goldsmith said it well in 1770:
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”