ELDAR SHAFIR SCARCITY PDF

Share via Email Indian sugar cane farmers performed worse in intellegence tests pre-harvest, when money was tight, compared to post-harvest. Awkwardly, for those who find this obnoxious, the research sometimes makes it seem true. Poverty, they argue, is indeed a matter of willpower and bad decisions, but the Mail has it back-to-front. Living with too little imposes huge psychic costs, reducing our mental bandwidth and distorting our decisionmaking in ways that dig us deeper into a bad situation.

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Share via Email Indian sugar cane farmers performed worse in intellegence tests pre-harvest, when money was tight, compared to post-harvest. Awkwardly, for those who find this obnoxious, the research sometimes makes it seem true. Poverty, they argue, is indeed a matter of willpower and bad decisions, but the Mail has it back-to-front. Living with too little imposes huge psychic costs, reducing our mental bandwidth and distorting our decisionmaking in ways that dig us deeper into a bad situation.

But the alarming conclusion of this book is how completely scarcity colonises the mind. In another study, Indian sugar cane farmers performed worse pre-harvest, when money was tight, compared to post-harvest. It promotes tunnel vision, helping us focus on the crisis at hand but making us "less insightful, less forward-thinking, less controlled".

Wise long-term decisions and willpower require cognitive resources. Poverty leaves far less of those resources at our disposal. Lonely people, suffering from a scarcity of social contact, become hyper-focused on their loneliness, prompting behaviours that render it worse. But the feeling of scarcity — of not having as much of something as you believe you need — is something more specific and agonising.

It entails a ceaseless focus on difficult trade-offs: the umbrella or the extra sweater? The greatest freedom that money can buy is the freedom from thinking about money — or, to quote Henry David Thoreau , "a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone".

Mallainathan and Shafir do sometimes succumb; financial abundance, we are gravely informed, "allows us to buy more things". In certain limited ways, for example, poverty actually confers cognitive benefits. And time-scarcity brings motivational benefits, as any journalist on a deadline could tell you.

The bandwidth argument threatens to undermine much received political wisdom on poverty. On the other hand, well-intended interventions like providing financial education or job-readiness training could backfire, too. How can we stop falling into these traps? Mullainathan and Shafir offer a few "nudge"-style suggestions. Where possible, systems should be designed so that inattentiveness leads to better outcomes, for example by making savings schemes opt-out, not opt-in.

And behaviours that require constant, energy-depleting vigilance like trying to resist non-essential spending should be replaced by one-off actions like automatically transferring a percentage of your wages to a savings account. The tendrils of scarcity reach too deep into the mind.

Poor people need more money, not self-help tricks. The overall result is a rather odd but ultimately humane and very welcome book. Presenting itself as yet another "big idea" tome that will reveal the unexpected force that explains the world, Scarcity ends up reaffirming one of the oldest truths: that what really explains the world is its division into haves and have-nots. The clear message to those with resources — money, time, or anything else — is to resist the urge to judge those without them.

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Eldar Shafir

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 Eld These questions seem unconnected, yet Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir show that they are all are examples of a mind-set produced by scarcity.

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Eldar Shafir: Scarcity

Empirically based, his research draws from the fields of psychology and economics to support the view that decision making is often not based on what is assumed by rational agent models. For instance, in a study with Amos Tversky involving Princeton students, it was found that people tend to find ways not to decide when faced with complicated and consequential decision. In a series of empirical studies, Shafir, together with researchers Peter Diamond and Tversky have provided evidence from experimental and real world situations that a number of factors such as cognitive biases affect decision making. One says the poor act rationally but have deviant values leading to a "culture of the poor". The second holds that because of faulty attitudes and psychological problems, the poor make poor choices.

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Eldar Shafir: Policy in the Contexts of Scarcity

He discusses a framework for dealing with existing obligations, while managing new requests and opportunities. The authors introduce two important concepts, time and money. The authors define scarcity as the feeling someone has when they have less of a resource than they perceive they need. They emphasize that scarcity is hardly transient, but instead a concept that constantly absorbs people and has profound effects on human behavior, emotions, and thinking. The authors also disclose that their decision to write and publish Scarcity originated from an opportunity several years earlier to write a single chapter in another book about the lives of low-income Americans. Scarcity affects the functioning of the brain at both a conscious and subconscious level, and has a large impact on the way one behaves.

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