Sorry for the extended holiday hiatus everyone. Both Brendan and I have been really busy and have struggled to find time for blogging. But now we’re back, so why not let us start the year with something horribly depressing and infuriating – Happy 2014 everyone!
This is something I saw at the end of last year, and have been meaning to write about since. It’s a list of comparisons of the habits of the rich and poor compiled by a US money guru called Dave Ramsey, culled from a book by fellow money advice guy, Tom Corley. I wouldn’t normally write about the witterings of random “Biblically inspired” American financial advisers, but this list got a lot of coverage last year in the States. Admittedly, a lot of the coverage was negative; but with 470,000 Facebook likes, it obviously struck a chord somewhere. Continue reading
Conference on Complex Systems, Health Disparities & Population Health: Building Bridges
February 24-25, 2014
Natcher Conference Center
NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD
Presented by the University of Michigan Network on Inequality, Complexity and Health
Improving population health and eliminating health disparities is a critical task, yet our efforts are stymied by the complexity of the task, involving as it does causes of poor health that range from public policy to the nature of our neighborhoods to how we behave to biology. On February 24-25, 2014, at the National Institutes of Health Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland, join scholars and practitioners from the United States and abroad to learn about and see examples of how complex systems science can help guide our research and policy efforts to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of our population.
For additional information: http://tinyurl.com/complexitydisparitiespophealth
A college degree is more than a wall ornament – it represents immense financial benefits for graduates. These rewards have become even more apparent during the long financial downturn, which have seen widening wage and employment gaps between college graduates and those with only a high school degree. Studies also illustrate that getting students to attend more selective colleges puts them on a trajectory to perform better in the labor market after graduation.
In spite of the benefits of college, low-income and minority high school graduates are much less likely to attend any college – and selective colleges specifically – than are higher-income, white counterparts that have similar test scores and grades. Encouraging more disadvantaged youth to increase their application pool turns out to be a very inexpensive way to increase their college attendance rates and attendance of selective colleges in particular.
In a recent paper, Amanda Pallais studies the effect of a change to the ACT, a popular college entrance exam, that increased the number of free score reports sent to colleges from three to four starting in the fall of 1997. Continue reading
Low pay is a huge problem in the UK. Of the 11 million people currently living in poverty, 6 million have jobs. Some of this is due to under-employment – people who work, but can’t get full-time hours – but not all. For example, three quarters of children in working poor families have a parent who works full-time (see the Earnings section on page 97 of this report). It is entirely possible to have a full-time job and still not be earning enough to live on.
In the last few weeks in the UK there has been a surge in high profile figures – from TV chef’s to government ministers – blaming ‘poor people’ for their poverty. In this guest post, Joe Penny from the new economics foundation summarises recent research from behavioural psychologists on how poverty itself makes it harder to make good decisions (building on Rob’s post earlier this week that went into one part of this research in more detail), and explains why this matters for welfare policy and reform.
First there was Jaime Oliver, claiming that he couldn’t quite grasp poverty in the UK, where people made choices between massive TVs and nutritious food. Then, more recently, Michael Gove suggested that the rise in people accessing food banks was a result of poor financial management, rather than genuine need due to falling living standards and benefit sanctions.
Oliver and Gove are, of course, not alone in thinking or expressing these views. Narratives of welfare dependency have become more common place and increasingly assertive under the coalition government; the the so-called Skivers and Strivers dichotomy is a well-known case in point. Poverty, according to this perspective, is caused by a culture of deviance, idleness, and dependency. The poor are responsible for their own plight. They cannot be trusted to make the right choices for themselves – or society more generally – and so are in need of paternalistic guidance (hence the current raft of welfare reforms).
But recent research suggests that this ignores the way in which poverty changes all of our decision-making – as I explain in this post. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but am only just now getting around to it. At the end of August, Science published a paper showing that worrying about money has a significant impact on poor people’s cognitive function; i.e. when you’re poor, money worries take up valuable brain-space, distracting you from whatever else you might be trying to achieve