Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function
Science 30 August 2013: 341 (6149): 976-980
Anandi Mani, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir3, Jiaying Zhao
Harvard Kennedy School
John F. Kennedy School of Government
June 13, 2014
The demands of the moment override the demands of the future, making that future harder to reach.
“There are three types of poverty,” he says. “There’s money poverty, there’s time poverty, and there’s bandwidth poverty.” The first is the type we typically associate with the word. The second occurs when the time debt of the sort I incurred starts to pile up.
And the third is the type of attention shortage that is fed by the other two: If I’m focused on the immediate deadline, I don’t have the cognitive resources to spend on mundane tasks or later deadlines.
If I’m short on money, I can’t stop thinking about today’s expenses — never mind those in the future. In both cases, I end up making decisions that leave me worse off because I lack the ability to focus properly on anything other than what’s staring me in the face right now, at this exact moment.