Integrative Science Symposium: Psychology in an Economic World

I would like to thank firstly on the behalf
of everyone associated with ICPS planning these four speakers for coming we could not
have quite literally a more extraordinary set of speakers for this event our format
is as follows a contributors have been asked to speak for about thirty minutes each given
the time we have in the schedule that means there will still be fifteen to twenty minutes
at the end of the presentation this time will be devoted to a round so to speak table discussion
involving our four contributors with of course time for input from you since there will be
a substantial time for a round table discussion at the end it might be best if we reserve
questions for individual speakers to that discussion period so now I’ll get out of the
way and introduce our first speaker who is Martha Farah speaking on socioeconomic status
and brain development from science to policy let’s welcome Dr. Farah my talk is on SES
brain development science and policy and as you can see by these questions in the next
thirty minutes I’m going to try to work my way with you from the science to the policy
let me begin with a sort of prefatory remark on SES and poverty people kind of talk about
them interchangeably I will too undoubtedly you’ll catch me doing that in the course of
this talk they don’t really mean the same thing obviously poverty refers if it refers
to anything related to SES it refers to the low end of SES or socioeconomic status but
in addition poverty as most people understand it has to do with money and not enough of
it SES is socioeconomic status that is there’s social factors as well including people’s
educational attainment the prestige of the jobs they hold the kind of neighborhood they
live in many many factors that are confounded if you want to talk the language of confounds
highly correlated if you want to sort of view it as just the way nature is not necessarily
a problem you know your research okay so low SES involves low education low money low income
low other economic resources typically poor neighborhoods and many other associated stressors
now the question of what are the correlates of SES is of interest partly because if we
can understand if we can describe what they are and then the third question understand
the causal pathways by which growing up in a low SES environment affects your cognition
your brain function and other things we might be in a better position to try to prevent
the lower the sort of less good outcomes less good life outcomes that are typically associated
with poverty or low SES you know decades of research starting you know before most of
us ever went to grad school have documented that kids people who grow up poor are more
likely to have a variety of physical mental disorders more likely to drop out of school
have lower educational attainment and have lower intellectual attainment IQ scores are
lower where by growing up poor sort of compromises you development in ways that make it all the
harder to escape poverty how does neuroscience contribute to trying to understand these processes
we’ll address that as well as what are the policy implications so diving right in about
I guess fifteen years ago now along with Kim Nobel my graduate student Helen Herd a colleague
in pediatrics at Penn we began studying the cognitive profile of poverty in children what
do I mean by the profile well as I said there’s a mountain of research showing that poor kids
perform less well on all kinds of tests we were interested in whether that whether how
depressed the test scores are might depend on what domain you’re looking at what domain
of cognition so we wanted to know in affect whether poverty kind of depresses all cognitive
processes kind of evenly across the board or whether it has sort of jaggier profile
where certain abilities are particularly compromised and we divided up the abilities in terms of
just a very simple rough and ready parse of cognition by neuroscience so you can see the
various systems there sort of named by both the functional nature of the process the cognitive
process and the associated anatomical area and what we found was that you know across
different ages of kids kindergartners first-graders middle-schoolers we found that let me just
make this a little bigger so I can read it okay well assessing these abilities by diff
rent kinds of tasks we still arrived at a pretty consistent picture of that profile
over studies and the picture was basically language was clearly showing a steep SES gradient
that is kids with higher SES had better vocabulary better ability to so syntactic comprehension
phonemic awareness and so forth executive functions particularly working memory and
cognitive control showed a gradient and declarative memory showed a gradient and that surprised
us a little bit didn’t seem like growing up poor should affect your ability to just see
some stimuli and remember later that you saw them but this is in fact what we found now
our results largely agree with the sort of single domain studies that have been done
before and since that is people who look at executive function in SES or people who look
at language in SES what was different about this is again we tried to see where was the
brunt of the effective SES and memory was definitely one of the big differences that
we say between low and middle SES kids and for the sake of this talk to kind of narrow
things down a little bit I’m not going to inflict a comprehensive review of all the
different things about language and executive function across SES I’m going to focus on
learning and memory and I’m going to start by beginning up this paper from what fifteen
eighteen years ago now by Herrmann and Guadagno that simply did a literature review not a
fancy meta analysis or anything but just sort of looked across the literature and found
that in general people’s memory performance was better at higher levels of SES here’s
some examples of the kind of memory that’s most relevant to what we found namely just
the ability to acquire and retain long term memories and they attempted to explain this
or to just to be very open about the fact that they didn’t really have a lot of good
hypotheses about what’s responsible so they said the explanation of the positive correlation
between SES and memory performance is not possible at this time the relationship may
be due to heritability of acquired memory ability across SES alternatively the positive
correlation between SES and memory may be due to a variety of environmental influences
variations in physical health across SES and emotional adjustment access to quality education
across SES that affect the acquisition of memory strategies and indecently we are find
our results were with an incidental memory task so it really minimized the likelihood
that the strategy would be effecting the results they conclude with SES may even influence
the motivation to perform the memory tasks these are all possibilities that are out there
that can’t be ruled out a year later John Richardson a very emanate British memory expert
wrote a critique of the Herrmann and Guadagno meta analysis where he basically you know
he criticizes them and the horse they rode in on you might say he also took issue with
their handling of the review and he attempted to do a more quantitative systematic review
what’s what we now talk about as a meta analysis and interestingly what he found was even stronger
evidence that kind of simple you know acquisition of a long term memory is significantly lower
in people of lower SES or higher SES his account of that finding well first he criticizes the
way Herrmann and Guagagno considered it he says apparently they regarded SES as a set
of characteristics that resided in someone’s personality self concept and behavior to that
extent there is an essentialist’s view of social class SES is something that lower class
and middle class people have or are and low SES and high SES people differ in their memory
function just because they are low SES or high SES people and you know reading behind
the lines of this and other things there’s clearly a discomfort with the idea that the
findings that he reports as well as Herrmann and Guagagno maybe you know essentially blaming
the victim saying well yeah you don’t get as far in life because you know you’re inferior
you don’t learn as well instead he suggests quoting again class related differences in
memory performance are actually constitute in particular relationships between researchers
and their participants so it’s has nothing to do with what you’re like inside what you’re
able to do it has to do with the situation you find yourself in well that is possible
and in fact I don’t want to discount the possibility that power relations coming into you know
upper middle class kind of laboratory setting do influence people’s performance and that
can show up as SES affect but I want to point to a very non-obvious explanation not among
the ones named by any of the authors I just have quoted and suggests that it’s a very
promising one so as demonstrated by Michael Meany and many others at this point early
life experience is rodents mainly it’s been studied in but even in non-human primates
affects learning and memory ability it affects brain structure and function and in particular
what has been found you know in the most extensive research available with rodents is that if
you stress a rat pup and they put it you know take it out of the cage stress it reunite
it with the mother rat the structure and later function of its hippocampus is determined
by how solicitous the mother rat is with the pup if the mother rat does a lot of licking
and grooming and arch back nursing that has a protective effect on the development of
the hippocampus protects it from the on slot of stress hormones and promotes healthy hippocampal
development this is not a genetic effect again from Meany’s lab we know that he’s done cross-fostering
studies where genetically unrelated rat pups receive good or bad mother good or bad in
quotes and finds the same kind of thing so the first bit of research I want to tell you
about from well not the first bit the second bit of research that I want to tell you about
from my lab is an attempt to test this hypothesis with people and see if it extends to our species
we used a cohort of kids that my colleague Helen Hurt has been studying since they were
born in fact she’s a Neonatologist so she got them the second they came out and she
has spent you know over twenty years now studying their development among the measures she acquired
were two that are going to be very relevant here one is she acquired home inventories
for these kids home I know some people here know about the home observation measurement
of the environment scale an RA goes into the kid’s home and both interviews the mother
or caregiver and observes various things about the home it’s self about the way the mother
and the child interact and the items you know range from kind of clearly cognitively relevant
such as you know are there books and reading materials in the home whether it’s you know
just adult reading materials are there children’s books are there toys that teach numbers and
colors that sort of thing and items that unlike these earlier cognitive stimulation items
have more to do with maternal or parental nutriments does the caregiver slap or hit
the child while the interviewer is there does the caregiver report holding the child close
at least I think it’s fifteen minutes a day is that right so we had these nice you know
fairly real world ecological measures of the children’s early home life at ages four and
eight and then when they were in middle school we had the cognitive testing that I mentioned
earlier that Helen and I had done to see which neurocognitive domains people were you know
good bad or indifferent on and what we did to test this hypothesis about the origin of
you know the environment the possible environmental origins of these effects that we found is
we just regressed their middle school age cognitive performance using as predictor variables
these home scores the home score for cognitive stimulation and the home sore for parental
nutriments along with a bunch of other variables to you know mother’s IQ gestational drug exposure
and so forth here oh that should have been up there so what we’re going to now do is
try to test this idea in human kids that maternal care buffers in a stressful environment buffers
kid’s learning ability and stress response first for learning ability we found two of
the neurocognitive domains were predicted by the home scores for language as you can
see you know perhaps not surprisingly the environmental the cognitive stimulation composite
predicted children’s performance along with the age of the kid at time of testing these
are scatter plots that live up to their name they are scattered but the point is there
is a systematic signal coming through here nonetheless that tells us that environmental
stimulation is associated earlier in life is associated with middle school language
ability more surprising is the result with the memory task it was not cognitive stimulation
it was not mother’s IQ you know a number of other things it was the parental nutriments
composite which is very consistent with you know this kind of rat lab based explanation
of the SES memory difference again the idea that it was stress and maternal you know behavior
parenting behavior was not among the possibilities that any of the previous authors had thought
about but now that we have the work of Meany etc. it’s available this is some work showing
in the same cohort of kids these this same measure parental nutriments not cognitive
stimulation effects stress regulation affects the stress response and it’s resolution which
is also consistent with what we know from animal research broadly consistent okay so
let’s go now to structural brain measures this is a slide from Kim Nobel’s project showing
that the income to needs ratio of the family of a child’s family is related to the volume
of their hippocampus so higher income in your family bigger hippocampus Gwen Lawson one
of my current grad students undergrad AJ Winkleman and I just looked through the whole literature
on brain structure in studies that have SES as a variable of interest or a nuisance co-variant
whatever as long as we could find the relation in kids and we found six studies and five
of them showed a significant positive relationship so this I’m showing you one set of data but
it looks like it’s pretty much out there in general I’ll also mention that it’s not so
clear in adults some studies show it but many more fail to show it and we’ll come back to
why that might be later so the hippocampus oh let me also mention consistent with the
idea that stress and parenting are key to SES effects on the hippocampus here’s some
work beautiful work by Joan Luby they had in their data set both SES variation that
was known and stress variation that was known and parenting behavior was known and they
were therefore able to do a mediation analysis and they found that stress in parenting actually
mediate the effect of SES on hippocampal volume so there’s definitely a convergence here of
just descriptive findings and also evidence that’s supportive of this hypothesis of where
those findings come from I think what we have here is a class that is half empty and half
full on the one hand there is a really encouraging consistency across labs on the question of
like descriptively what does a child a low SES childhood look like in the brain and in
the cognitive abilities and also concerning possible mechanisms on the other hand there
are plenty of inconsistencies too and I think it’s fair to say we’ve just scratched the
surface here I don’t want to say okay we can you know we can explain it all and get to
work solving it let me go to policy and intervention and before I talk about the specifics of you
now what if anything do these data call on us to do let me just make a few more preliminary
results about this sort of the moral implications of some of this work okay first thing I want
to talk about is are we blaming the victim here which was kind of I think where Richardson’s
discomfort was coming from are we saying you know the cause of lower performance and less
ability to get ahead in life is in the person themselves so they have only themselves to
blame right I don’t think that any modern psychological scientists as we have come together
as a group here would say that causal explanations are about blame right we look at you know
mechanisms by which people become depressed or whatever we don’t say yes therefore you’re
to blame for your depression and I think it’s more accurate rather than to say the cause
is in the person to say the causal arrow goes through the person it clearly originates in
the environment as several of the studies the Luby work our own work have pointed to
so I think it’s important to we can maybe talk about this later to note that this is
not saying people are to blame for their own or even the parents are to blame for the children’s
disadvantage the other thing is when you bring the brain in you run the risk of evoking people’s
you know automatic associations between it’s a biological problem and therefore it’s an
immutable problem biology is destiny but of course much of the work that I was just showing
you had to do with the effects of the environment on the brain in fact you know plasticity is
a huge topic of research in neuroscience now we know that if it’s in the brain it’s still
in principal completely changeable so this kind of work should not be viewed as evidence
that oh these kids are damaged goods there’s nothing we can do with them far from it okay
so what are the implications I want to distinguish between framing of the issues and actual substance
that we can use to deal with the issues by talking about neuroscience and cognitive science
in this context I think we’re going away from sort of blame and other morally frayed words
like effort surveys in the U.S. at least have shown that a very common view of why poor
people are poor is that they don’t try hard enough their irresponsible they make poor
decisions because of their irresponsibility like they have too many kids they don’t stay
in school you know etc but the nice thing I think the sort of incidental nice thing
about the cognitive neuroscience approach here is that neurons don’t get blamed they
don’t expend effort you know they don’t have good or bad characters they just behave according
to the laws of the natural world right I mean it’s the laws of physics a neuron can’t do
anything except what the laws of physics tell it to do so I think it’s very helpful in
distancing ourselves from the sort of blame mentality incidentally the Center for Developing
Child at Harvard which has done a lot of policy work using neuroscience when I first saw their
briefs on you know toxic stress in the brain my first reaction was like oh you know this
is just a pretentious use of neuroscience it’s just dressing things up with neuroscience
it’s not really using it it’s not acknowledging what a work in progress neuroscience is but
I actually came to appreciate that know what they’re doing is they’re providing a counter
narrative to this view that poor people just aren’t you know they have themselves to blame
and so why should society help them in terms of substance I think we have a little bit
to point to I think it’s certainly the works so far indicates that we need to be very attentive
to the stress in a child’s environment as well as the parenting skills of the parents
that’s not nothing but it’s also not anything that you could really you know take to NIH
and say therefore here’s the right or you know education institute and say here’s how
we need to fix things but I do think that in the next ten years neuroscience will have
fully earned it’s keep in this area if only by coming up with bio markers that will help
us understand who’s at risk what interventions are looking like they’re working and so forth
finally on this last point how do we increase the substance I think there is no algorithm
this is the matter of scientific discovery particularly collaborative science and I think
you know there’s no recipe book we have to do this and then we’ll make this progress
but I think if we keep this community this like interaction among child developmentalists
economists neuroscientists cognitive scientists if we keep this going I think that it is very
likely that we will develop a much better grasp of the way poverty impacts brain development
and people’s life chances and what kinds of intervention tools might be effective so let
me just end by thanking my collaborators whose work I showed you and thank you to Daniel
at APS for bringing us all together and thank you for coming so I’m going to be talking
to you and I don’t have my slides in front so I’m going to be looking and going back
and forth and I use my hands a lot so hopefully that won’t distract you or that will make
something to keep you awake but I’m coming from Carlos Albizu University I spent thirty-six
years in the U.S. having a wonderful career then I went back home so now I’m in a very
small university bringing all the knowledge and also learning a lot about the third world
and how it works so the outline of my talk I’ve always worked interdisciplinary so I
always bring a slide that talks about my point of view because I think it’s important for
all of us to think about what the lens is that we are using I’m going to try like Martha
to give a sense of what we know from my perspective from my human development perspective going
to talk briefly about interventions because I think that we’re all interested in interventions
both intervention research in terms of what it’s telling us about human development but
also about interventions that we could institute I’m going to talk about some interesting exceptions
because we always think about socioeconomic income education as a linear factor and I’m
going to show you some stuff about might be curvy linear which is an very interesting
way of thinking about it but also the notion of where there’s some exceptions in the world
where low socioeconomic does not correlate with all the negative stuff that we’ll all
be talking about and then I’ll bring some conclusions so what are the points of views
here all of my co-authors are my students so we are both developmental and clinical
psychologists and we’re researchers and clinicians so we have those two perspectives in forming
who we are and what I’m talking about today we have a North American education I think
that’s important to say because we’re very based U.S. based and we in the U.S. there’s
this wonderful custom of ignoring most of the world so I think that it’s really great
to be here I’m very excited to be in this new and I’m see a lot more conferences that
are you know sort of trying to bring all of the different worlds we don’t use first second
and third anymore AI don’t know what we’re using anymore but I guess it’s developing
countries maybe not low income but anyway I think it’s important to keep that that’s
my bias and of course I’m going to talk a lot about North American research and theoretical
perspectives on the other hand I was born and raised in Puerto Rico so I bring a Caribbean
perspective what does that even mean that means that I have a cultural critique but
at the same time I am U.S. based in terms of my work and my education I’ve always been
very critical of it the main organization that I’m a part of The Society for Research
in Child Development I’m the editor of Child Development right now and you cannot imagine
the battles we’ve had in the last forty years it’s been great and of course there is a minority
status there’s a notion of really coming into the main places of science being given science
being trained being given all the wonderful experience of being in the U.S. but always
feel that there is a minority perspective still there I can see where the science is
going through cultural lenses that are not really explaining to me the experience of
many people in the world the experience with many people in the world so socioeconomic
influences what do we know they start at inception and I’m using maternal income and education
as my variance and its related to maternal stress during pregnancy and we know that maternal
stress has some implications for the fetus we know that maternal and fetal malnutrition
also has impact on development we know that there are lots of pregnancy complications
that if they go untreated may affect the fetus and we also have exposure to noxious toxins
and we know that all of these things are associated with low income and low education that they
can be associated in other studies with later social emotional cognitive learning language
and environmental problems so I’m very happy to be following Martha because I think she
gave you sort of the background for this stuff low income may also limit access to basic
developmental needs such as an adequate diet so it might be that there might be some physical
of waves of low income getting into the body or into the child so for example families
experiences food insecurity and food insecurity is something that we’ve developed in the U.S.
I don’t know if everybody knows what that means but basically food stamps are given
out at certain times of the month and by the end of the month they don’t have money for
food or the income doesn’t last so there’s food insecurity at some point it’s not that
they don’t have malnutrition all the time it’s that they can’t buy the food all the
time so that might affect the mother’s nutritional intake and that might affect the fetus then
we go to various outcomes we know that low maternal income and education is associated
with more preterm birth lower birth weight even if it’s at the same term and birth complications
and again we know that these are associated with early developmental problems throughout
the life span I mean asphyxia at birth is something that happens and there’s nothing
that can be done later on so these are things that are very much part of living in poverty
so poverty can have both direct and indirect effects for example it may affect birth weight
by affecting the mother’s health related behaviors so it might be not necessarily that she’s
not eating well or anything like that but she might have some addictive behaviors and
she might not be able to get access to treatment and those sort of smoking and drinking and
the stress chemicals compounded so it affects low birth weight and it might be more difficult
to quit I don’t know if you’ve how many of you have experienced poverty in their life
very few interesting alright so when you are poor basically there are a myriad of things
that are not right it’s not necessarily a particular so you might be smoking because
of the stress that you’re going through etc. lower maternal income and education is associated
with negative aspects of the postnatal childrearing environment as Martha was saying we psychologists
observe mothers and children we video tape them we code their behaviors and stuff and
what do we find? we find that there’s less amount in complexity of verbal interactions
they might talk but the talk is a different talk there’s less contingency on responsitivy
fewer learning materials and cognitive stimulation and there might be parental inconsistency
with regard to the daily routine changes of primary caregivers lack of supervision etc.
which in turn can be associated again in other studies has been associated with later social
emotional language learning problems so compared to their peers even if we move out from the
body and the family poor children are more likely to be to exposed to other environmental
deficits what are these they live in housing that are crowded noisy and characterized by
defects such as inadequate structures toxins pest infestations lead you know all those
kinds of wonderful things that I said that we inhindge on people then we ask how come
they are not graduating from high school and when I look at this thing I say how come anybody
is graduating from high school given this life that they’re exposed to they go to school
with less educational resources and with teachers who are less prepared to teach so we find
this additive this cascading affect no they start with some sort of risk factors and they
just keep on going from one to the other they live in neighborhoods characterized by crime
boarded houses abandon lots there are no parks you know this wonderful city that we have
right here you know how many of our cities can we think in our low income you know neighborhoods
that could have the safety the wonder the exposure to so many different things and they
have less access to quality health care so maybe they get some lead in their brain maybe
they have some problems with that and there’s no follow up of trying to deal with those
issues as a consequence of this multitude prenatal and postnatal influences associated
with low maternal income and education there are a myriad of neuro developmental again
I’m amazed at the resilience that I see so many low income children families that can
really deal with all the exposures that they have so we find very early on like twelve
twenty-four months you find the low cognitive functioning you find the more limited range
or language capabilities and you find some less secure attachments this is not only cognitive
but it’s also social emotional I love the work by Dan Keating I don’t know if you know
it but if you don’t you should read it he’s a sociologist I think he’s now he’s from Canada
but now he’s in the U.S. and he has found pretty much what we’re describing from studies
that are coming from studying particular families and neighborhoods he finds them at the level
of countries he’s looking at it inequality income inequality is his independent variable
income inequality of the country level and he finds that all of these things that we’ve
been talking about that happened within a country in terms of income it happens within
countries so it’s not necessarily the income of a country but it’s really the inequality
of a country how much high and lows they are and so it’s really interesting to see he’s
schematic and he’s theoretical framework and this is some of his data so this is looking
at inequality income inequality in twenty-eight different countries and he’s finding after
he controls for a lot of myriad of things that basically there is an inequality to the
mean literacy of the country so basically it’s not the income but it’s the spread of
the income the more spread the income is the less literacy is in the country and so it’s
really giving you a sense that this working not only in the individual family level neighborhood
school but it’s also working at the level of countries one of the greatest things that
he’s talked about is this notion of biological embedding and I think I want to like Martha
talk a little bit about what it means in biology biology is environmentally determined I mean
biology is if you look at Darwin and everything he was interested in you know adaptation evolution
was all basically environmentally determined now something changed in the environment who
survived who did the adaptation who went on that’s the one that came on so he basically
uses biological embedding which includes fro him synaptic pruning this whole notion that
not only does the brain creates as it goes synapses but also the brain looses with is
a really interesting model for human development right that at the same time that you gain
you lose some and the gene expression basically what we’re finding right now is genes are
giving us various positions but they get expressed depending on the environment so let’s always
look at biology as a function of both what the kid brings and environmental demand so
this is the way that I think about what’s going on pregnancy birth outcomes care giving
environments other environments it all comes out to a biological embedding that impact
early childhood development and basically what we’re thinking of right now which is
really sad to think that we can predict from where kids are at four and five years of age
where they’re going to be in life right we put them in a track and we just look at them
going on that track downhill or upward in most places and I think that the basic notion
of early childhood development as a base I say to my students you know sometimes Fraud
was right we don’t want to talk about it or early experience I mean he might be wrong
he might have been wrong in the interpretation of what he was observing but he was a great
observer this notion of early experiences being really critical are very much a part
of the way that we’re thinking about how socioeconomic get’s into the individual so a little bit
about neuroscience because I want to talk about that too that poverty early in life
may be more harmful than later in life and this is not only from neuroscience but it’s
also from work by Greg Duncan that has found that if you have poverty in the first five
years of life vs. the next five or the other ones he can isolate that the one that really
makes the difference in the first year and why is that I think because a lot of neuroscience
is telling us that in the first five years of life for humans you know in other species
it might be the first few months the first two years but for us the first five years
when a lot of the shaping the pruning the creation the enlarging all that kind of stuff
that Martha was saying really is happening in those five first five years of life so
the human brain development is rapid and to a certain extent even if it’s plastic it’s
giving a lot of information is getting in it’s like a sponge I just always think about
they’re just sponges and not that we can’t be sponges because I’m taking all this wonderful
experience in and I know that I’m learning from here but it’s very different it takes
a lot less energy to do that so some of the research as Martha did just to give you it
affects school readiness as I said by year by five years we find incredible differences
between middle class near poor and poor in all things from recognizing letters to math
abilities it’s not only in words it’s not only language but also in fun and also in
terms of sequencing and reversibility we also find that children from better families and
better educated parents perform in school at the age of ten and this is some work thank
God from England so we can sight some other countries this is the only one I could find
which is pathetic when I was looking at on my own ways of searching data in the U.S.
but anyway this really gives you a sense of how these things just move down in terms of
mean scores at the age of ten and it also this is work by Greg Duncan and Katherine
Magnuson that really shows you that it’s not only schooling but it’s also rest working
hours food health and non-marital birth there’s a whole siguela of living in poverty that
goes through the adult years so myself I’m really interested in poverty of thinking it
is a way that societies create all societies create social stratification processes and
this is something that I created a while ago to think about minority kids in the United
States where anybody who for a social position variable which can be erased you ethnicity
your religion anything that puts you apart your social class your gender you sexual orientation
and had how this sort of mechanisms of racism and segregation of how people get segregated
by systems that we don’t even acknowledge that are there and how kids and families get
relegated to promoting environments or inhibiting environments no environments that are not
necessarily supportive of development on the other hand coming from a minority perspective
I also say you know there’s an adaptive there’s something in strength in humans in terms of
that thing to amazing stress that really gives us a sense of hope and I’ll present some of
those findings and of course a child each child is a different world you who have had
more than one child knows that every child comes with a different set of personality
and needs and things like that that you have to react to and that the family makes a point
so how does this work in the united states for example if you’re black or Hispanic or
anything like that what happens you end up being in the poor status of the U.S. so race
and ethnicity in the U.S. are basically confounded okay so this is a study where she basically
looks at different kinds of interventions for poor families in the united states so
you can have income support programs they add you three-hundred dollars a month on top
of what you make make it here you can have an earned income tax credit at the end of
the year when you pay for your income tax some money comes back there’s casinos right
now a wonderful invention from the native Americans trying to get back to the white
people and then we have conditional cash transfers which basically just depend but what we know
most about is early childhood education and that’s the one in the United States that really
has made a difference and we have really good data to talk about that so what do we know
what are the lessons from the work that’s done we know that the earlier the better prevention
vs. remedial interventions are not cost effective right prevention is a lot easier prevention
is cheaper for one dollar that you provide spend in prevention saves seven to ten dollars
in remedial intervention we have the sort of analysis made from and the more systems
are addressed comprehensive long term the larger long lasting effects I also want to
talk a little bit about structural intervention vs. compensation we there’s something about
psychologists that I’m not sure maybe through integrative science we would do better on
this but we like for example to teach parents how to be parents in a setting where there’s
no income stress drugs and other stuff and I find that really hard to believe that we
smart people can think that something like that is going to make a difference even taking
the kids and putting them on an early intervention to me the kids are still going back to the
same environment so basically the notion of why don’t we invest in mothers instead of
teaching them how to be parents invest in their education so they can move on from poverty
so they can become have less stress so they can become better mothers because we know
that parenting in those communities in particular examples are not good five minutes alright
quickly so it’s not all about the money I some places and I’m going to talk about some
interesting exceptions this is work from a friend of mine Suniya Luthar where she’s finding
that very high income kids are actually not doing that great alright affluence might be
negative for your health alright so let’s just keep that in mind I’m not going to say
anything more but in might be something very different to be very poor or very affluent
but there’s a lot more morbidity with the very affluent than there is with middle class
interesting the next couple of slides are work from myself where we find that in a particular
study that I did in Providence when I was looking at children of immigrants what I found
is the kids were from the lowest SES in terms of mothers education and income they were
actually doing the best right s I said hmm this is interesting and I started looking
at the public health data and it was called the immigrant paradox we had never talked
about it in terms of psychological although now this was in the 2000’s now we are but
what was finally figuring out was what is the mechanism for this so I started doing
other studies and so this is one based on health which is a national representative
following and this is looking at basically sexual risk and what you find is that from
the first generation to the second to the third the risk keeps on getting larger alright
so something about I call my book becoming American may be hazardous to your health and
we have it now in more in lots of other ways in cardio vascular in obesity in all of this
kinds of things there’s something about acculturating to a society that it’s not giving you that
in many of these cases are considering you poor minority dark skin whatever they’re not
giving you any break but at home at least you have some hope right there’s an immigrant
dream that it’s keeping you know alive so we found this that basically each generation
was getting worse and worse in terms of sexual risk we also found that in sex partners and
that seemed like the mediation so it’s not that they were starting sex at a different
age at a different you know generations but it was that they were having more sex partners
by the third generation there was a monogamy there was maybe a one boyfriend etc. so you
see the affect was quite big and we see it embody this work by Amy Marks one of my former
students also found that in terms of body max index entering middle childhood and basically
it’s explained by behaviors and not by fast food consumption and on this one this is work
that we are going to be publishing very soon that we looked at the medication by settings
because I’m always trying to find what our settings are doing for this and basically
what you find is that the initial model you see all the particular key values are significant
but then when we put the settings you can see the variables that are explained by the
settings and that that differences for Latinos vs. Asians again it’s starting to tell us
a lot of these things have to be very contextualized and there is some work right now in Europe
and some places about the immigrant paradox Damitra Radosveta I don’t know if she’s
here darns she’s not she’s now in the Netherlands has done a lot of work on this
trying to see if the immigrant paradox is working here she’s doing a meta analysis right
now so basically the impact of low income low maternal education in-country income inequality
starts at conception right and maybe even earlier but at least we have data that says
at conception these things are already affecting human development maternal stress malnutrition
pregnancy complications exposure to noxious toxins at birth we find the same mechanisms
this low income low maternal education is associated with prematurity low birth weight
and birth complications that place the infant at risk the postnatal environment are adding
to that right so we are finding that families are not exactly in the same place to be able
to respond to the kids needs because of the stress and everything else neighborhoods are
really not there to compensate for what’s going on health care and schools developmental
deficits are seen very early on I actually have found that by eight months of age in
terms of maternal vocalizations and complexity the biological embedding is a way that I think
about how these early things can predict for so long although we know that interventions
that talks about the plasticity that Martha was talking about really makes a difference
there are exceptions to low income and location affects some cultural practices might be protective
against poverty and question the affects of income might be curvilinear when affluence
may actually be detrimental to your health implications for research policy and practice
we know a lot I would love not to stand here and talk about poverty and affects on kids
anymore I’ve done it in places that are full wonderful places affluent and stuff like that
and sometimes I get sick to my stomach there’s a moral issue here there’s a moral issue how
much more do we have to talk about that really poverty is not good for human beings we know
we need research that is to test contextually-adapted interventions we know right now from some
work that earlier the childhood education and investments in maternal education ad well
being really make a difference the question is when where and how and I think that each
community each section of the world needs to really think about what we know and try
to contextualize it to the particular needs to the place of course we need effective public
policies and practices that are evidence based why do we do science if it’s not going to
be used but our locally tested and adapted the earlier the more structural oriented the
more comprehensive if the most cost effective and the question that we have to deal with
we have the knowhow do we have the will thank you very much the topic of my talk is on progress
in societies and I have to decree I’m not a psychologist by training I’m a sociologist
and I’m working in an institute of economic research so the majority of my colleagues
are economists and we discovered anyway the psychology also in our projects and in our
work about twenty years ago and I will tell you the story of bringing psychology into
research design that has a long tradition what I want to talk about first of all I will
start with the history of social indicators social indicators are has become a movement
in the 60’s and they try to chart the development of society and the progress of societies in
our work and I want to point out then that there have been a strong links between psychology
and those early movements of sociological progress and economic terms and the concept
was quality of life and I will come to this and bring an example for this bringing those
concepts together with a project I’m directing at the German Institute of Economic Research
a Social Economic Panel and I will tell you a little bit about the design and the results
and the outcome of that study then I will show you what our design of life course and
long-running Household panel studies will bring also in aspects of this topic of progress
in societies and I will point out when we become discovered the psychology and what
the outcome of this development is enriching this tradition of social indicators so I will
start with and example from the U.S. this report was the first social indicators report
and it was published in 1969 so a long time ago and if you look to the preface of that
report you’ll questions we are also that are topics of our discussion here and this was
a time when not a lot of evidence and data were available it was forty five years ago
and they started we need also necessary social indicators for monitoring trends in our society
and but it was clear what was the direction they wanted to form a better world so it was
also normative in some way and here are the chapters of that multi disciplinary working
group of economists sociologists but also some psychologists and the research questions
they raised in the forty five years ago they are good questions they have normative content
or direction where we want to shape a better world and a better future for our next generations
and we are rich scientists and what should be the directions and this kind of multi dimensional
research question shows you it’s not only health it’s issues of social mobility the
physical environment but also income and poverty of course and indicators of education learning
society but also on participation and social decoration of the society so this was the
starting point of a so called social indicator movement and kind of definition of social
indicators they are statistic at times serious from by design so just informing the public
politicians and informs society used to monitor the social system and helping to identify
change and to guild interventions to alter the course of social change so this was multi
dimensional picture of social indicators and there have been attempts within that movement
of social indicators for example for the new development index also to find composite indices
of to bring all those dimensions together and not to just report on GDP and income development
but also to bring the different dimensions to another kind of picture of progress in
society so as I said the movement started in the 60’s in the U.S. and the international
organizations they invested a lot also to bring a better database into place and to
make international comparative mappings of the development and there have been different
reports by united nations and of course to point out the initiative of the OECD that
started also with a special report on social indicators that in this tradition already
in the 80’s and the 90’s you had the first society at a glance that was a aggregated
picture of the OECD countries by those different dimensions aggregated indicators on development
and then we are here in Europe and the European Union has been also a big project for bringing
diversity into a better European Development of integration and at the beginning of the
enlargement of Europe there has been also a strong concept of bringing indicators into
the world and Tony Atkinson he tried to give benchmarks for good indicators and right now
we have we are on the program of Horizon 2020 that also aims of the Europe of Europe European
development for the next decade and as you know the Sarkozy report with Stieglitz and
Fitoussi commission beyond GDP was also in the public debate and the OECD again after
just society at a glance made progress with the measurement of well-being and with different
reports although in Germany where I come from there has been Enquete study response on this
critique of GDP as a progress indicator of a development of societies of a Enquete commission
on growth well-being and quality of life and some years ago and this has been the chart
of that commission and they chart what they want to integrate on a national level to bring
better data and evidence on the development within the life course and here you’ll that
it’s part of the psychology in that report and they also paid attention for the people’s
subjective experienced quality of life not only in Germany also in Great Britain there
has been response to that Sarkozy report and Stieglitz and in Great Britain you have wheel
of different dimensions and progress also in the in Great Britain you see well-being
as a part of the aggregated development and the number and the reporting system they just
established two years ago here you have a picture from Eurostat that is the statistical
office of Europe and they are charting with integrated European social of official statistics
to benchmark the quality of life indicators the progress was in Europe whether there are
they are converging in the level of well being and quality of life or whether there are traces
of polarization in that process and as I already mentioned the OECD they also charted now you
can go in to the internet and make your individual bench mark and you can compare to the national
level of those eleven dimensions to your individual set of well-being and the different dimensions
quite actually one other response on this recent development of equality of life in
Germany as an initiative by the German government and chancellor Merkel she once has set up
priority program on well-being living well in Germany and so she’s trying not only to
have the indicators but also tries with one hundred citizen dialogues she will go to the
people and talk to them and have qualitative enrichment of beside the indicators so this
is another outcome of this kind of development so I will switch back now again to the roots
and the psychological and the sociological roots of that development of social indicators
and in I think it started in a kind of tradition with the work of Angus Campbell in ’72 when
he for the first time had a national representative survey where he included a psychological concepts
and well being indicators this was the first source for those indicator reports to have
psychological concepts introduced on the concept of well-being and there first picture is Wolfgang
Zapf he’s a German sociologist and he was also a promoter of the investigation of subjective
perceived quality of life and of course Ed Diener who approached as a psychologist quality
criteria what are the benchmarks of measuring and operationalizing the concept of well-being
but coming back to Wolfgang Zapf and his special design because it is also a design of survey
I will introduce in a second so it was Wolfgang Zapf who had a cross tap of good and bad on
objective conditions and subjective conditions and his idea was well thinking of progress
of society everybody goes and knows what is bad for society we have a perception poverty
was an example we discussed already and so his idea was well we if we cover this idea
we meet not only the concept of well being but also have other situations if we combine
this idea of good and bad on objective and subjective level and this is exactly the idea
that is behind also the OECD level that we try not only on a objective perspective of
economic progress but also to bring it together with the same people who are in good conditions
but don’t feel good so that is a puzzle but we should map also this kind and find a progress
of this development well I will if we I’m very happy that you invited me and I will
take the opportunity make a little bit promotion for a study the study is named German Socio-Economic
Panel and this study was designed by the creators of this social indicator movement of psychologists
of sorry sociologists and economists to benchmark on the one hand the economic progress and
the development of within Germany but also to have a concept of subjective indicators
this study is has now finished thirty waves that are available in scientific use files
and it’s one of the longest running longitudinal multi-cohort panel in Germany what is the
mission of such a longitudinal enterprise well the mission of such or the possibilities
of longitudinal surveys they show that you have the possibility to look back in time
and to quote look at current events and conditions into the future so the life course idea is
in that design represented for Germany the mission is clearly we have on a nationally
representative level longitudinal data to monitor the periodic trend this social indicator
idea but also in a multidisciplinary perspective covering the entire life span of the individuals
living in those households and what well we did not discover this kind of design Greg
Duncan was already mentioned for he was working on child development he was director of the
Panel Study of Income Dynamics and we got also advice of course when we started with
our panel study and but we made I think some very crucial innovations in our design first
we did not allow proxy reports on the household level we asked every adult member in the household
with an individual questionnaire PSID just asked one respondent who was in the household
on the other side we had Wolfgang Zapf and our survey and he wanted to have subjective
indicators from the beginning so we started already in ’85 with concept of cognitive well
being in our survey and it included also 2007 effective indicators of well-being well then
a unique event happened unification and we expanded of course we included East Germany
and could compare now the development of East Germany and the development of social transitions
and progress with West German so that was also part of the puzzle and the discovery
of early childhood was also mentioned well we slept at the beginning we did not discover
we discovered but at least in the age in the year 2000 we started with eight specific concepts
of children and the early childhood and since 2002 so also quite long time we introduced
more and more short assessments of psychological concepts and Elza Dranskof she was in our
advisory board and she always promoted well you have to include also some psychological
concepts and helped us to develop the early life cost what are we measuring well this
is just our broad picture of the indicators we have we decide the objective majority of
questions like in the PSID we have the biographical history and we measure stability and change
over the life course and we have different topic in economics political science and also
in psychology this is our picture of our life course it’s a little bit similar like the
tradition of cohort studies that start with the birth and Great Britain has a version
of first cohorts representative big birth cohorts started already in the 70’s we don’t
have in Germany but we started in ’84 with this kind of household design where we also
have new births per each year then we start from the observation period until people get
old and transition into labor market and so on those little red arrows show when we start
with individual questionnaires that was in age sixteen when we had adult respondents
but you see well we started also introducing eight specific questionnaires first observed
by the mother but now also since year age twelve the youngsters give individual reports
and what we have of course besides the family context of those individuals we have positive
and negative events within the family mother of father gets unemployed what happens to
the child outcome in the transition and of course we have some rich indicators on regional
opportunity structure what neighborhood are they living where are they moving so we have
transitions and with comparisons to the U.S. or other longitudinal studies like the HILDA
study in Australia you can also look for social and cultural and economic conditions well
those SOEP based study results go into a lot of reports also indicator reports for the
government and periodic development but so we are covering both the trends also of poverty
in Germany or richness and they are part of the official reports but besides the social
indicators we also are able with our longitudinal design to make really evidence based policy
evaluations we don’t have experiments within our design but kind of natural experiments
because we cover a long time period and then there has been policy changes and then you
can with advanced statistical statistics address also this experimental dimension and look
for causal events here you’ll see the development of well-being and life satisfaction in Germany
as you see well the arrogated level on the left part there have been some periodic shocks
shocks like the 2004 that was the highest number of unemployed we had in Germany we
had about five million then we had been tough policy reforms and you see well there was
also this was the lowest valuation of well being in Germany if you look on the right
side you see different pictures for the development of East and West Germany and you see even
twenty-five years after unification on the subjective well-being there’s still a significant
difference between both parts of Germany East Germany catched up but well you see there
is still a gap and this also designed by our data and well it’s the Easterlin puzzle and
paradox for Germany if you look on the aggregated level of well-being starting in ’84 well you
see some ups and downs but on the average it’s more or less the same but if you look
on the income development on the same households that are reporting on the well-being the well
you’ll see a different picture and you’ll see this paradox of that is well known by
Easterlin well the discovery of the SOEP by psychologists it happened with Adina’s word
but Richard Lucas and Andrew Clark they discovered the SOEP data and published the core results
for Germany because they looked they centered live events on the before and after well-being
periods and they discovered in the mid 2000’s this kind of data and well also Daniel Kahneman
and Krueger they report it and replicate it and show this little picture and there report
on well-being in the journal of economic perspective then the discovery of the economist so on
happiness economics started and here you could see well there have been different life events
and it’s their adaption after some years that is a core question but the good thing on this
update you can replicate those results for example for the honeymoon results you’ll see
the adaption after three years but replication means you get the data and address the same
research question but have some new ideas and Zimmermann and Easterlin they looked not
only when they looked before cohabitation what select into cohabitation and if you look
for the baseline before cohabitation then you see there is no adaption so this is the
nice thing of such data that they are free of use that you can replicate them and use
them coming back as a resume to the social indicators movement we see a lot of reports
now we see those figures the wheels and the indicator reports by the OECD and other groups
but I share the skepticism of Tom Smith he already published in the 80’s we argued well
the big idea or basic idea of social indicators in the beginning was where we want to shape
the society by our indicators where we will design it by just having the indicators but
I think there is the result well only the indicators don’t bring you the really empirical
evidence of what how you should design public policy but of course they are have their value
on just informing the public on the descriptive development of a society and comparative groups
with the society I come to my summary well I think in the European Union we have now
such established concept of world wide data production also with new social statistics
and social reporting efforts and to evaluate the direction of our society I think we should
foster the interdisciplinary discourse of the concepts not only take attention to the
economists who are like the objective world but also look on the social integration question
of social integration of political sciences and of course the psychology who draws attention
on those puzzles of perception bad but objective conditions good how can this happen I think
psychologists have the best expertise for bringing or untangling these puzzles we need
I think access to the data all I reported was either data from official statistics at
least within Europe and I know also in the U.S. it’s a culture that you get access to
the micro data of also federal statistics and micro data of representative data I would
claim well we need also access to data that run very nicely for example by GALLUP but
as a poor PhD. student in a small University you will never be able to replicate because
they are too expensive if you want to get access to those data so I think that’s not
good for the scientific development of such indicators and data if you cannot replicate
results with another eye and perspective and I think that fits also to the other presentations
that the progress of human behavior we need longitudinal analysis we need heterogeneous
populations and this is best realized with randomized samples and then of course we can
try if we have treatment groups to make really experimental research but those also studies
they come at least to quasi-experiments that you have the before and after and can then
make a test assumptions on the self selection of different events I promote including a
rich set of psychological indicators and this kind of life course model and if possible
of course not only on a national level but in an international and multi-cultural setting
thank you very much it’s a pleasure to be here I want to take us a little bit back from
well being back to deprivation and I want to talk about how to think about behavior
in context of poverty of scarcity more generally and I’ll explain the difference in a minute
but if you look at the literature on poverty most of it is work done with sociologists
and economists and there’s basically a debate that goes between one slide that says that
the poor are perfectly rational the way economists think about most decision makers they consider
taking work of not depending on the level of generosity of the benefits programs offered
to them they have more or less children depending on benefits given by the government etc. and
the other side the pathology view that discusses mayopia lack of understanding lack of insight
lack of planning culture of poverty etc. and it’s interesting to look because there’s obviously
an alternative which would be the one that comes to mind for most people in this room
and most people in this room behavioral scientists have not been engaged in this debate to a
large extent so one of my things today if I can is to recruit many of us to work more
in a context that’s of great importance but really has been left to some extent except
for a couple of remarkable examples you saw this afternoon has been left to others not
the behavioral researchers where there are important insights to investigate so I’m going
to focus really on kind of the behavioral view of poverty and again I want to just convince
you poverty is a major issue it’s not one that we should have the luxury to leave behind
if you look if you take the world banks and the OCD standards of $1.25 dollars a day as
the cutoff for poverty which is a remarkably low measure even in developing countries were
leaving one point four billion people even below that rate if you move a tiny bit if
you simply move the poverty line that we assume to be important from one point two five to
two dollars a day you now have more than a third of our population below poverty line
if you go to ten dollars a day a wildly generous estimate the majority of the world population
is in poverty and you know we can talk more about there’s something that should be remarkably
embarrassing for a species that considers itself rational in the year 2015 to have most
people living in deprivation when we’ve just seen by the way when you give the rich more
money doesn’t even make them feel any happier and we’ve done very little so we’ve been talking
about poverty a lot in the last two or three decades if you look what happened this gives
you some sense that things are getting better but a lot of this is due to the Chinese who
started very low and have done a very good job improving conditions if you take China
out not that much has happened there’s about a ten percent improvement on those who get
a dollar a day and the rest has moved very little in the last thirty years and again
with something that you can consider of enormous importance now the issues of poverty are complex
they start from global to very individual issues to you know from relationships with
nations to countries and towns so we can talk about all of it you may have hear Bono walking
around talking about forgiving debt to developing countries it’s a remarkable issue to look
at basically developing countries are paying an enormous enormous amount of money to us
the western world for debt that they owe and a lot of that debt that we gave them was given
to juntas and dictators that wanted a lot of money from the west to give you one example
South Africa today is paying twenty-two billion dollars a year for money that we generously
gave the Apartheid regime so there’s a real deep issue here and as we collect the money
from the countries struggling to develop you know that requires international discussions
so I’ll limit myself to something that we can think about a little bit more modestly
and something that we can actually do in policy locally look at the U.S. the U.S. is you know
clearly one of the more developed nations in human history we have right now about fifty
billion Americans who are below the poverty line the poverty line by almost all estimates
is a crazy low estimate there are a lot of organizations in the U.S. that estimate the
living wage the living wage is what’s assumed to be the minimum amount of money you need
to live a minimally acceptable American life in the year 2015 I’ll come back to it in a
minute and by that standard things are extremely different let me give you just an example
of how this works so Angelique Melton is a woman who lives in Charlotte North Carolina
she makes about $7,500 dollars a year way below the American poverty line the U.S. system
significantly less generous than you’d get here nonetheless some and brings her to eighteen
eight which brings her above the poverty line so Angelique now that she gets these benefits
from the U.S. Government is no longer in the fifty million that I showed you who are below
the poverty line she’s gotten out of it but if you look at what a living wage in Charlotte
North Carolina is of course it depends where you live the living wage for Angelique is
almost 34,00 so after all the help and being taken out of the poverty line she’s making
about half of what you would need to be living a minimally acceptable live if you look at
the living wage which most policy makers don’t talk about the number of poor struggling in
the U.S. is somewhere around 100 to 150 million somewhere between a third and a half of the
population and some of the subjects I’ll describe to you are those you’ve heard some stuff before
the statistics about I’m giving you the U.S. now because it’s not like the other countries
we saw who are in deeper trouble but the data is kind of baffling so you know if you were
an African American kid born in the U.S. today there’s a 90% chance at some point you’ll
be on food stamps now again the reason this is so important is because it’s not just not
having money being poor is a deeply financial contextual social psychological situation
in which you find yourself and that’s what I’m going to try to address today for a few
moments but again that’s what I want to impose on you the importance of thinking about it
from our perspective and what we might be able to do to alleviate the lives of people
who find themselves in those conditions okay one comment I would like to get rid of early
because when you give when you work on the poor in the U.S. there’s always somebody who
says look what do you mean poor the American poor if you to them to Shanghai they’d be
middle class so what’s the big deal and I want to address that very quickly just to
get it out of the way so this is a classic thing you read in the American press they
count how many color TVs as if you could buy black and white if you wanted to today but
how many TVs and blenders and other things the poor have and they suggestion what do
you want they’re not really poor the most recent one was done just a couple years ago
the Heritage Foundation again counted TVs and blenders and mixers and all this kind
of stuff and said look the poor are not poor and the reason I’m bringing this up is we
can all see sort of where you come from it’s true that you’re not dying of starvation but
that’s not the same as being poor when this came out the Heritage Foundation report came
out it got lots of press but very little critical commentary it was just reported look that’s
what the American poor are doing except for a few deep observers of the American scene
those who are not American might not know their names but these are important observers
so for example when this came out Steve Colbert said this report proves that poor are not
living down to our expectations if you still have the strength to brush the flies off your
eyeballs you’re not really poor now Colbert is a comedian and he’s being vulgar but that’s
more or less what they mean and Jon Stewart said I never realized the poor people have
it so good in this country no wonder the middle class is pouring into their ranks in droves
and what’s so remarkable about this is but all of this was resolved completely 250 years
earlier so for example if you read Adam Smith Adam Smith has this beautiful passage about
how it used to be the case you were not expected to wear a nice linen shirt to work now you
are expected to wear one if you can’t afford it you’re poor okay so the standards of what
it takes to live an minimally acceptable life changed from the middle ages to Amsterdam
2015 but now that those have changed take something like internet which ten years ago
was an unthinkable luxury if now the school of your child assumes access to internet to
download her homework and she can’t afford it well then you’re poor and if Grandpa finds
that funny that’s cute but it’s still the case that now that’s what’s required to live
a minimally acceptable live and that’s the definition I’ll adhere to I’ll take very much
Adam smith’s advice here and think about the poor this way when you think about the poor
this way you discover that the poor behave very badly anywhere you look not just the
poor in developing countries but in the U.S. as well if you look at public health we have
solved many problems today in many cases all you have to do is take your medication on
time and there’s a big problem in public health people don’t adhere to their regimens and
take their medications on time if you look in the literature on public health the poor
in developing countries as well are the worst culprits you move all the way to weeding in
the fields of India weeding is a simple activity that increases your income by a substantial
amount people fail to weed as much as they should poor farmers as it turns out weed less
than their neighbors in the field next to them who are richer parenting there’s if you
go to Barnes and Nobel or some store here there’ll be many many books that discuss how
the poor are less good parents less attentive less consistent in their disciplining etc.
and in the world of finance it’s basically infinite the poor take pay day loans all kinds
of very short term high interest loans that they cannot pay back and get into poverty
traps and things look terrible so this is the world that we got interested in why the
poor are behaving badly you’ve seen many things already this afternoon and there’s many others
anything from education to financial literacy to deviant values to neighborhood affects
and other things of that sort I’m showing all this because I want to say many of these
no doubt play a role I’m not going to replace them I’m going to set them aside for a moment
the whole debate about whether it’s individual or environment predominates as you heard earlier
this debate I’m going to abstract away from a lot of this and ask what is the psychology
I’m going to look at simply the psychology that emerges when people inhabit context of
not having enough so that’s the agenda this is work that we’ve done mostly with very dear
college and friend and economists at Harvard Sendhil Mullainathan and a lot of other students
and postdocs we’ve been doing this for a number of years we ended up not where we started
but where we ended up is roughly the following and that’s what I’m going to spend ten minutes
to give you a sense for the argument is going to be that when you inhabit context of not
having enough that generates a particular psychology and that psychology when you put
it in context we don’t have enough makes bad things happen okay in particular psychology
is going to be that you focus enormously on juggling you insufficient resources and that
just leaves you less mind for a lot of other things you need to do with complicated consequences
and poverty traps and the things that are emerge okay that’s going to be roughly the
story we use a metaphor and but of course it’s not perfect but it will leave you a mnemonic
think about going through life with a suitcase if you are comfortable enough you have a big
enough suitcase and there’s some space there’s some slack in it things are easy if you want
to pack for a weekend say you go away for a weekend you open up your very bug suit case
you start tossing things into the suit case and you’re doing this in decreasing order
of importance so you throw in a few things you’re not going to take everything in the
house after thing five or ten you’re done didn’t take you very long didn’t require much
effort you close the suitcase you’re ready now think about the small thing with a very
small suitcase you open it you start putting things in by thing three or four you’re running
out of space and you have to stop thinking about other things you’re doing focus on this
packing problem get into trade-offs ask do I take the big shoes or the small shoes you
become an expert on the size of things it takes a lot more work and when you travel
with a very tightly packed suitcase everything is more complicated as opposed to when you
have a lot of slack there’s actually computational treatments about the packing problem that
are very relevant to this the idea is going to be that you go through life much more preoccupied
juggling very tight budgets than you do if you have plenty I’ll give you one simple intuitive
example in standard economic treatments scarcity is everywhere every time you buy something
that’s ten dollars you’ll never have again everything is a trade off for many people
in this room when you buy a cup of coffee or when you have a lunch with a friend you
don’t stop to ask what will I not buy instead it’s as if you’re reaching into a infinite
bucket of small expenses the person who sells you the coffee or serves you the lunch often
does ask herself repeatedly what will I not be able to do it I do this or if I do that
and the argument is this is going to keep you busy a lot of the time and we have a lot
of data on the poor being very careful in their budgeting and doing a very good job
they devote a lot of attention to it they spend a lot of time knowing what they’re doing
lot of old research in marketing if you simply stand outside of a super market and ask people
okay how much did you spend today how much was the pasta how much was the sauce the rich
have no clue and the poor know exactly one thing that I learned that was lovely from
marketing research there is in American supermarkets they claim up to 20% that sounds high to me
they claim up to 20% of items in a super market exhibit what’s known as a quantities surcharge
quantity surcharge happens when half a pound of spinach costs $5 and a pound cost 12 so
you should stop and say to me now I’m really confused and that’s exactly I’m not confused
that’s quantity surcharge when you pay more per unit item when you take the bigger as
opposed to the smaller box why would you do that you do that because the rich in the super
market can’t bother to check exactly they assume the bigger is a better deal they take
it they put it in the cart and they gave the company a gift what’s so interesting is that
quantity surcharge is not found in supermarkets in poor neighborhoods because the poor stop
and check they’re focusing on this they say aha two half pounds cost less than a pound
I’ll but two half pounds there’s a lot of evidence that the poor are going through life
attending carefully this is a study that I really really like so in this study in the
cab study we stand outside the South Station in Boston and ask people for the household
income then we ask them when you do into a taxi in Boston what does the meter read now
it’s not just because clearly the rich take taxis much more often than the poor but they’re
much less likely to know the answer the rich enter the cab and kind of look at the Charles
river and how pretty it is and the poor are doing their calculations and computing their
costs and if you simply ask people what do you think about when you buy a TV the poor
are much more likely to report thinking about trade-offs than the rich do so there’s a lot
of work showing the poor are focusing and juggling very very carefully but that comes
at a cost so their argument is going to be when you tunnel when you think a lot and all
the time carefully and preoccupation on the things that are most urgent other things that
you know might be important are going to be you are going to lose focus in the periphery
when you’re preoccupied terribly with paying for food for your kids tomorrow you’re going
to take that payday loan whose consequence for you is simply outside of the tunnel is
going to prove to be very grave in the long run that’s sort of the idea now a lot of the
stuff that we do in the book and other articles is not just about money but I’ll spend less
time on it here so many of you in this room actually are time poor in ways that are very
similar to my subjects you just don’t have enough time so for example you do a lot of
trade-offs when I ask a lot of you do you want to go to the movies you say what’s the
movie what will I not do tonight that I’m going to have to do tomorrow you’re doing
trade-offs in your very tight time suitcase temptations are an interesting one that lunch
with a friends for many of us is a completely standard thing to do for the poor it becomes
a temptation that needs to be resisted think about time spending a couple of hour with
your kids in today’s western world is a perfectly reasonable thing to do for many of us because
you’ve been successful enough spending two hours with your kids at the end of the day
has become a temptation that you need to resist because it’s too much out of your time suitcase
so again some very interesting examples of words similar this one I really like so there’s
an enormous amount of critique about the poor who cannot afford certain debts they have
buying small gifts for their kids and why would they spend their money this way and
I say to you how many of you right now are sitting on commitments time commitments that
you know you won’t be able to abide by and if so what are you doing schmoozing here with
me you should go back and do a little bit more so very similar very similar affects
and of course in all of these cases what’s clear is when you make that mistake it’s a
lot more consequential when you have no slack in the suitcase and things are more costly
than when you have more okay let me give you a couple of examples on the psychology of
scarcity I’ll give you one quick story one at Alid we do in the book we do a lot of this
it’s a beautiful case if you don’t know it it’s about starvation so when in 1943 when
the Allied forces realized their about to inherit all the hungry people in camps in
Europe they also realized they didn’t know how to feed them and feeding the hungry is
like you know coming down mountain climbing it’s a very important part they hired this
very distinguished nutritionist Ancel Keys to do a study about feeding the starving in
order to feed the starving you have to starve them first he got thirty-six remarkable impressive
young men who were conscientious objectors and because they were objecting to the good
war were eager to participate he starves then not to death but to massive discomfort and
there’s a lot of data on this a lot of research a lot of things written physically these people
are in terrible shape but it’s not surprising they cannot hold their hands above their heads
long enough to wash their hair they’re so tired they cannot sit without a cushion there’s
no padding left etc. but psychologically which is something Key’s hardly looked at its remarkable
to see because basically these guys can’t think of anything but food it doesn’t make
them happy they don’t want to think about food they plan to open restaurants it’s kind
of comical they compare presses of food items in newspapers they memorize recipes at some
point the researchers feel so bad they show them a movie and the testimonials from the
subjects are you know they showed me this movie I could care less about the love scenes
I wanted to see the meals that’s all they can think about and this is very much what
we’re going to propose that somehow when you are dealing with something that’s you don’t
have enough of that’s where your cognitive resources go they go to by the way both system
one and system two both when you think fast when you think slow but when you choose what
to think about and when you just look at other people’s reactions in half a millisecond or
half a second that’s what they think about the things they don’t have enough of so here
is one study this is a study done in California with dieters half the participants are dieting
for them food and calories are scarce other are not dieting and as you can see it’s a
classic word search with odd number words are cake donut sweets are diet related scarcity
related and the even number words are controls the other condition we replaced the food related
words with neutral cake becomes street donut becomes picture etc. now we’re going to take
the dieters and non-dieters and see how long it takes them to find the same words tree
cloud that are common to both either in the context of food items of not and what you
see is that for the non-dieters this makes no difference the dieters take a lot longer
to find the word cloud when it’s proceeded by donut after you see a donut it’s literally
hovering in your head when you’re looking for the next word and impacts you performance
and if you go to financial issues this is a nice study that looked at people that have
financial fears and worries you take a group of people shown to have financial fears and
worries and a group that didn’t at it’s a classic strop I simply asked you to name the
color in which the word appears and what you find is that those who are not worried about
retirement of course name blue and red just as quickly but if you were worried about retirement
this is half a second response if you’re worried about financial issues it takes you longer
to say red than it does to say blue so you’re seeing it everywhere from discussions to half
second reactions what you are feeling you don’t have enough of predominates in some
sense your cognitive capacity and attention and this takes us to a study we did at a mall
in New Jersey we go to shoppers in New Jersey and by the way if I forget to mention it later
these are not none of the people I’ll show you here are in object poverty they’re just
financially constrained Americans somewhere between fifty and one-hundred million somewhere
in there we go to these people in the mall we ask them to participate in the study they
agree we put them in front of a computer screen we’re going to show them we’re going to show
you financial scenarios that capture very something very similar to everyday life so
your car breaks down it’s going to take you some amount of money to fix how are you going
to go about taking care of this problem the scenarios come in two versions manageable
and challenging the manageable case the car is going to cost you $100 to fix which we
know for most people in this mall is perfectly doable the challenging is going to cost you
$1,500 to fix which we know you’d be amazed by the data for a large proportion of Americans
this is a very hard number to come by so that’s going to be either 100 or 1,500 to fix while
you’re think about how you’re going to take care of this problem just to keep things interesting
we’re going to let you play certain games and then you tell us what you’re going to
do we divide people by self-reported annual household income into rich and poor just median
split rich and poor in the mall the games they get of course are classic instruments
that we have used we as an organization as researchers have used for three or four decades
now so the classic you know some version of cognitive control divide attention test on
the left and a classic you know fluid intelligence Raven’s matrices on the right they go through
these tests of cognitive control divided attention fluid intelligence and they report what they’re
going to do and let’s look at the results if you look at the cognitive control test
the rich people in the mall those in the high half show no difference in cognitive control
whether they’re worried about the manageable or the challenging car the poor people in
the mall when they’re worried about the manageable car look indistinguishable from the rich but
when they’re worried about the car that’s challenging and posing a financial problem
they can’t quite handle as easily they lose cognitive control they’re distracted move
to fluid intelligence the rich don’t care which car they’re fixing the poor when they’re
fixing the manageable car statistically insignificant from the rich when the poor are fixing the
difficult the challenging car they lose fluid intelligence this if you make simple assumptions
about a normal distribution of IQ scores it’s a coincide of about .9 they lost about thirteen
to fourteen IQ points Thirteen to Fourteen IQ points in the American school system is
enough to take you from average to borderline gifted or from average to borderline deficient
it’s a giant affect if I kept you up all night literally all night like you know with Eminem
blasting in the background you’d be about nine IQ points lower this morning what this
is saying to you is these people who were a minute ago when the car was manageable were
just like their rich friends are now functioning less well than you would with a night without
sleep okay there’s a lot of problems with this study because I mean everything is controlled
for but the American’s rich and poor are different people they have different heart rates different
blood pressure etc. so there is some nuances here the dream was can we do this within subjects
and we did these are sugarcane farmers in India sugarcane farmer works in such a way
that you income comes in one shot and because you fail to smooth you end up being poor before
the next harvest so now we go to the same dudes the same farmers four months apart two
months before and two months after harvest give them versions of these Strop and other
tests these are hand held devices and you find that basically these guys the same people
now same education same health when they have plenty function about ten IQ points higher
than when they inhabit scarcity I’ll tell you one quick study this is the most satisfying
study I ever did this is Princeton undergraduates who it’s hard to make them poor in money but
it’s pretty easy to make them poor in time so they come to the lab they’re randomly assigned
to be rich or poor in time in a game they’re playing where they earn points depending on
how clever they are and they leave with more money if they earn more points their very
much into this there are two condition and one condition you cannot borrow you play the
round when the round ends you move to the next one and the borrowing condition when
you finish a round if you like you can borrow a few extra seconds at predatory lending rates
every second you take costs you two seconds from the bucket of time available to you it’s
very expensive loan how do they do these are people who cannot borrow if you just look
at rounds completed and points earned clearly the rich do a little bit better than the poor
who can talk more about it they should do a lot better than this if they simulated being
poor because they’re not trying as hard but anyway the rich are doing better now let’s
let them borrow when you give the rich the chance to borrow at predatory lending rates
they’re very clever and say this is not worth it it’s high interest I’m not doing it when
you give the poor and by the poor I mean the exact same Princeton students who now don’t
have enough time the chance t take a payday loan to take predatory lending they grab a
few extra they’re sure they know the answer to number two they grab two extra seconds
they pay dearly for it and they leave the lab with less money than had they not been
able to borrow and to me the reason it’s so satisfying if you in the American context
taking high interest loans is a paradigm case of the myopic poor and what you’re seeing
here has got nothing to do with being poor you take Princeton students and put them in
context where there’s poverty and they start doing the things that look so myopic when
the poor were doing them okay last couple of slides and I’ll be done I’m not going to
belabor this point there’s and irony to poverty you’re functioning with more requirements
on your system than otherwise your system is less capable to deal with them and the
punishments for making mistakes are much higher so you know the world is conspired in some
sense against you there’s a lot of this is policy implication for one thing if you’re
a policy maker when you have somebody who has a scarcity of money you have to keep in
mind they also there’s a scarcity of bandwidth they’ll just have less cognitive resources
available to them and that really changes how you might want to do things there’s a
lot of things that we can talk about here’s something that’s important from our perspective
the scarcity you feel is not just how much money you get it’s how you use it if I facilitate
your life and demand less cognitive resources from you you can live a better life with the
same amount of money if I make your life more complicated or if I help you less the same
challenges become bigger I can spend a whole evening here tell you about the disasters
that happened to the poor at least in the U.S. here’s at least one simple I’m using
example bank accounts in the U.S. when you have a checking account deposit money in your
account five days a week and withdraw from your account seven days a week now when you
have enough money that’s just a very cute exciting who cares fact but when you are balancing
a bank account at near zero that fact imposes an enormous puzzle on you that never goes
away and like these are many and policy makers when they don’t appreciate it are going to
make bad policies as a result and it’s going to be a real concern and I’ll give you one
example president Clinton instituted a lifetime limit on welfare receipt for five years and
the fives well for five years that’s the lifetime limit now I don’t think that was Clinton’s
intention but in light of this ask yourself the following imagine we had a nice afternoon
here and I say to you please write me a one page report due in five years what would you
do nada for four years eleven months and three weeks and then you start planning something
when you are an American poor tunneling in your problems and there’s a five year limit
they’ve built a system that penalizes you but completely fails to motivate it’s completely
outside your tunnel now how to do it I don’t know ten half year limits reminders whatever’s
going on what we know for a fact is the American poor woke up one morning and found themselves
running out of welfare not having had the chance or the mental wherewithal to think
about it until it was terribly late and then it takes us things as stupid as forms this
is important what does a long form do just a form for a benefit I’m offering you a benefit
and there’s a big form to fill when you do standard cause benefit analysis which is what
we typically teach in policy schools okay a long form is another hour another two hours
what’s my time worth anyway it doesn’t make a difference in this view it’s all very different
because if I don’t have enough bandwidth I don’t have enough cognitive space that form
could become a real obstacle FAFSA is one of the most generous benefit programs given
in the U.S. FAFSA is aid to go to college that the government gives you it’s many thousands
of dollars the take up of eligible Americans is about one third very low and then they’ve
done studies this is what the form looks like and you know somewhere on page fourteen it
reminds you that you’re doing this under penalty of perjury in case you misrepresent anything
etc. etc. so you do a study this is a beautiful study that Reopose and his colleagues did
the purple is take up and enrollment in college the green they go in and say I know everything
about you I know your case your parents income you are entitled to 4000 a year here is the
form nothing happens version number three I know everything about you I know your household
income you’re entitled to 4000 a year here is the form let’s fill it out together and
actually maculation in college not just applications goes up that’s one hour at a minimum paid
job to get people to a place where we’ve spend so much more money ’til now trying to convince
them to go to college which has a lifetime impact so it’s just a way of thinking about
obstacles many of you have seen defaults into saving for retirement basically instruments
we’ve build to help people typically not the poor live a more better more sophisticated
live this is my favorite this is a glow cap it’s a fifteen dollar plastic capsule that
complains if you don’t open it on time to take your medication it screeches it lights
up it sends you and email can calls you on your cell phone saying open me and the argument
is if you get HIV for example where taking your medication 70% of the time is not 70%
good this could have life expectancy implications of many many years this is the people who
have the medication in their pocket and life interferes and so the metaphor I’ll leave
you with is that of a cockpit you know when we train pilots today you can’t make them
any better what you want to do now is take the best pilots you got and design a cockpit
that allows those you are talented and trying hard to succeed more in their flying and if
you don’t do that if you design cockpits that are not conducive to flight people will crash
and that’s one way to think about citizens struggling with poverty and for policy makers
this is a really new idea for the following reason this bandwidth we’re talking about
this little cognitive system you have is the the only one you have to do you banking look
at your kinds homework remember to take your medication on time it’s the only one you have
if I give you a bandwidth gift make your banking easier I’ve now given you some bandwidth that
you can use elsewhere you can look kid’s homework we don’t typically do this if you go to the
treasury department they alter your banking and then come two years later to see how you’re
doing on your finances but that might miss something important because once you make
my banking easier I say thank you and I go take my medication on time and that’s something
we might miss and my last slide I just echo something that Cynthia said earlier if you
look at these behavioral studies and you buy some of the implications of the kind of things
we all here have been funding that changes things it means that when I give you a long
form when I make your bank account deposit money five days and withdraw them seven I’m
just not making your life a little bit more annoying I’m actually hampering your ability
to succeeded and if you look at that that way we are consistently violating basically
the international bill of Human rights that forbids us from doing that in cases where
we know that something simple to do could lead you to a better place and make you wealthier
and happier and that’s something that’s really deep for us to think about and engage in okay
thank you I believe that the cognitive neuroscience kinds of work that I presented are not so
much they don’t lead to action items but I also think that you know if you need a neuroscientist
to tell you that children should be safe and not stressed and their families should be
supported then you’re pretty clueless so I think the neuroscience itself is more in a
helping position to help with the agenda that I think developmental psychology behavioral
economics and so forth layout alright I’ll talk I will not say that again I hope you
know we as scientists and social scientists primarily I guess we all are here have a responsibility
to the world that we study I mean that I think that it’s to a certain extent immoral to study
poverty and then not turn around and work at it so my personal view is I’ve always been
an activist everywhere I go what I say is what I say to my students the person that
I meet at the corner the person that I meet in the tram I mean I’m always advocating for
people to realize how much privilege we have and how much the privilege that we have is
based on the impression of other people and so that’s my personal answer is basically
that the way that I can live with being an editor and being a scientist and stuff like
that is that every opportunity that I have to make some wrong right to say to somebody
who’s in a political power anything like that I just say it at the same time really the
stress when you were talking about social indicators they were made in the 1960’s I’m
from that generation and our generation really we did believe that we were going to take
away sexism racism and poverty we really did believe some of us that there was going to
be a change in the world and inequality in the world actually has enlarged in the last
year so I think that all of us should really think about how on a daily basis because I
believe that you know you can send a check at the end of the year and feel comfortable
and great about it but how can you really make a difference in your life is being political
getting involved talking to everybody you know empowering people that don’t have power
and tell your students that hopefully the next generation will get it better than we
did that would be mine yes it happens all the time that I talk about these things in
a scientific meaning but it’s alright anybody else well I already said we have all questions
and the question now we have whether we really have a evidence problem or whether there is
more need for bringing knowledge into public policy and I think that is a core question
and scientists can only help can argue what are the side effects of developments and you
had also some interesting stuff on the poverty issues that if you are poor you still have
some chances and outcomes that are good for society perhaps and for development and to
find this out I think is one of the key questions of the maker of scientific contribution to
this I think that the time of ideology that is passed behind us that also policy has to
justify if they invest public money to report to the tax payer whether this helped in some
outcome and increased the outcome and the hopes of the programs though the justification
also from politicians has raised I think in the last twenty years to justify that the
tax payer money for public policy is invested in the way that you expect it when you took
the honey in hand and so and of course some experiments of public policy they showed also
large negative affects and you had that reform the welfare reform that you restricted to
a time period I’m sure they have been reports that this limitation which will be an optimum
but I think we have to make a cost benefit analysis more in doing our research than we
not only focus on one aspect look also on the side affect of our policies I don’t need
it what I’d add to this is a couple quick things one we have a science that’s not always
intuitive not what has an impact or how big the impact might be and for those who are
looking who are compelled to listen and look and consider data some of the data that we
as an organization produce we have a lot of power a lot of impact a lot of surprise factor
I think another piece of good news is that policies don’t work so far and so policy makers
are very open to new suggestions they’re very frustrated a lot of things they’ve tried have
not worked well and last thing economists have been in total control of policy and economists
are now much more open thanks to certain behavioral evolutions and behavioral economics there’s
a lot much more openness to behavioral input into economics into policy and so if you put
those things together as long as you assume policy makers are well intentioned not that
they all are but the others we can’t convince but those who are well intentioned I think
are open to input into data and I think a lot of people in this room could do a lot
to alter where things go the last thing I have to say I don’t know you look at it if
it’s good news or bad news you’re not going to alter presidents and prime ministers the
place to start is to talk to mayors to talk to local leaders who can actually implement
programs quickly the mayor of Amsterdam as it turns out is very involved in policy relevant
programs right now along with mayors in many other cities around the world and then you
know presidents and heads of nations will come later you know they have less time for
it they have less a shorter time to be in office mayors and organizations non for profits
are the ones who can make a big difference thank you although our even technically has
a scarcity of time which will impair my thinking I think we should take a question from the
audience yes can you repeat it I’m saying these wonderful presentations have failed
to explain the personal exceptions of people poor to poverty to many generations of poverty
who have changed the world they’re the exceptions when Cynthia asked how many people here have
been poor and nobody raised their hand in a universe we know two thirds of the world
are poor that tells you something poor don’t get PhD’s so yes of course here and there
but what are you going to do with that that just argues that it’s not worth talking about
hi oh that’s better I think this question raises an issues it’s related to that issue
of kind of biological essentialism biological determinism and so forth that is worry is
if we try to make models that explain whether they explain through economic forces psychological
forces or biological forces explain why as a generality of people raised in poverty have
less enviable outcomes we’re not saying that this is a 100% deterministic you know sentence
for everybody in those circumstances but what we are saying is that it greatly increases
the chances of these poor outcomes statements you know the whole literature on resilience
right basically talks about I think now more than anything else is relationship right if
you have a good relationship with a coach or parent or grandparent or something like
that tends to again support the probability that you’re going to get out of there but
you know those of us who make it out it’s at a very high cost too and that’s something
that we really need to talk about and its really remarkable to me that most poor people
that I know have sort of healthy lives they’re actually more happier in their lives many
of the ones you know my friends who are really struggling when something really good happens
it’s not that it’s going to pass or something like that they really celebrate the good things
in life and those of us who have so many privileges are quivery and confecting about you know
particular oh my cell phone died you know we call it what first world mentality the
horrors of first world so you know I’m part of a privileged cast right now and that’s
the way I live my life with sharing everything I have and I admire people who make it out
but I know that that’s at a very high cost and that those are the fewer it’s problematic
it’s just not great to leave under the condition that you were saying cognitively in terms
of income in terms of well being in terms of so many things going against you and you
struggling your whole life hi I have the microphone now I was listening to your talks and one
of the things that struck me is about viscous and virtual cycles and as I began to think
about that I began to think about systems and I was trying to think about from a policy
perspective what is the biggest bang for our buck we could get from looking at systems
and looking at parameters in those systems that would really give us the biggest bang
for our buck so for example in terms of the second talk I was thinking that one of the
things that we know over time over generations if that children young girls have been coming
into puberty earlier and earlier and this is related to diet and exercise and the presences
or absence of fathers and so these things all act as drivers for some of these vicious
cycles and the age of onset of puberty and the age of first sexual debut the age of sexual
activity the age when having a child having young children and so all these things just
accumulate and affect all these other things so I’m wondering in your mind if you think
about this systemically what is the thing that we could do that would have the biggest
bang for its buck in terms of the system that’s really the question eliminate poverty just
you know I mean it’s really to me we always try to compensate for it’s like we have a
cancer and we’re trying to come up with ways of how do we live with the cancer which is
wonderful many more people are living with cancer right now than they used to but you
know my sense would be prevention my sense would be in you want to deal with early puberty
you would be empowering poor women you know women who are at risk for getting pregnant
to have a different world view alright so I would start the earlier the better I would
start with prevention programs and I would start with not education necessarily but opening
opportunities so that’s why I love the notion of investing in parents so kids can have a
better life and really thinking that if we get parents out of poverty and they can live
lives that are not necessarily so demanding than their kids will do better so my sense
is early prenatal second grade interventions for something that’s going to happen when
they are fifteen I just I think when you ask for bang for the buck you know I don’t know
what the buck is exactly I mean a lot of things you could do don’t cost anything you know
for Clinton to have devised the welfare system differently would not have cost more or less
it would have just been different for banks to deposit and take money the same number
of days in the week is cost free the U.S. does a lot of professional training for the
poor the professional training courses begin the first of the month three sections and
we always know that after week two or three many of the students drop out because life
is complicated imagine instead you have a course begin and the sections start at the
first of the month the tenth and the twentieth so now when I don’t have childcare or I don’t
have transportation and I miss a class I can get the next wave the same class the following
week that doesn’t cost more or less it’s just a different design that sort of you scarcity
prove and it can make people’s lives a lot better so I think some programs can be very
costly and others if you bring in behavioral insight could be very effective without incurring
any cost at all it’s just a different way of thinking about what works and doesn’t I
regret especially seeing colleagues in the audience with questions to play my administrative
role and point out that we’ll be running out of time eleven minutes ago so I think what
we should do is to thank our speakers one more time for getting this convention off
to a very remarkable start thank you

7 comments on “Integrative Science Symposium: Psychology in an Economic World”

  1. Matt Orfalea says:

    1:53:40 rich vs poor effect on cognitive and intelligence tests

  2. Matt Orfalea says:

    1:58:25 Clinton limited welfare to 5 yrs. what are the effects

  3. Matt Orfalea says:

    1:56:50 irony of poverty

  4. Matt Orfalea says:

    1:59:18 THings as stupid s as forms… Long forms…long welfare forms…what are the effects?

  5. Matt Orfalea says:


  6. Keilon George says:

    Let's do a study on how many times the man at 58:00 says Uh and Um

  7. susan asi says:

    this is awesome! thank you

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