Some consequences of having too little

Anuj K. Shah, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

380 Scopus citations

Abstract

Poor individuals often engage in behaviors, such as excessive borrowing, that reinforce the conditions of poverty. Some explanations for these behaviors focus on personality traits of the poor. Others emphasize environmental factors such as housing or financial access. We instead consider how certain behaviors stem simply from having less. We suggest that scarcity changes how people allocate attention: It leads them to engage more deeply in some problems while neglecting others. Across several experiments, we show that scarcity leads to attentional shifts that can help to explain behaviors such as overborrowing. We discuss how this mechanism might also explain other puzzles of poverty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-685
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume338
Issue number6107
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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