In August, Science published a landmark study concluding that poverty, itself, hurts our ability to make decisions about school, finances, and life, imposing a mental burden similar to losing 13 IQ points.
It was widely seen as a counter-argument to claims that poor people are “to blame” for bad decisions and a rebuke to policies that withhold money from the poorest families unless they behave in a certain way. After all, if being poor leads to bad decision-making (as opposed to the other way around), then giving cash should alleviate the cognitive burdens of poverty, all on its own.
Sometimes, science doesn’t stick without a proper anecdote, and “Why I Make Terrible Decisions,” a comment published on Gawker's Kinja platform by a person in poverty, is a devastating illustration of the Science study.
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And here are the graphs to prove it.
Food, clothes, and housing account for more than 60 percent of all spending among the poor.
Morocco is one of the more developed countries in Africa, but only about half — 56 percent — of its population can read. Most schools there lack electricity, and many don’t even have toilets. Most children living in the country’s rural areas start primary school, but about 40 percent drop out before finishing six years of primary education. The rudimentary education system makes its mark in the country’s test scores: It’s ranked 59 out of 69 countries in math and 64 out of 70 on science.
To nudge families to keep their children in school, researchers recently experimented with giving parents in the country’s poorest districts small grants of between $8 and $10 per child each month. Some of them were told they’d only get paid if their child attended school regularly, but the others were simply handed money, told nothing, and sent on their way.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that giving out money without any preconditions was more effective than asking families to do something in exchange for their bounty.
"To the extent that conditionality had any impact, it was a negative one," they concluded.
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Flying in the face of the basic doctrine of conservatives.
|—||Rebecca Solnit - A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2005)|
On July 5, 42 psychiatric patients escaped from the No. 3 People’s Hospital in Teng county, Guangxi province, in southern China. The escaped patients were later found and recaptured several miles away. It wasn’t long before another incident occurred. 12 days after the thwarted escape, two people, a foreigner included, were killed by a knife-wielder, later confirmed to have a mental illness, during rush hour in a popular shopping mall in Beijing. This may just be the tip of the iceberg, showcasing how serious mental health problems have become in today’s China.
Statistics released by China’s National Center for Mental Health showed that as of the year of 2009, 100 million Chinese suffered from mental health problemswith more than 160 million citizens afflicted with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and paranoid psychosis. Such figures indicate that one in every 13 Chinese in 2009 had a mental health problem. Back in the 1950s, the reported ratio of Chinese adults suffering from mental illness was just 2.7 percent, or one in every 37 Chinese citizens.
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