Poverty Can Sap Brainpower, Research Shows

Burdens of poverty can lower IQ scores, a study finds, undercutting assumptions that people become poor because they’re lazy or lack intelligence.

Whether you’re a New Jersey mall rat or a farmer in India, being poor can sap your smarts. In fact, the mental energy required to make do with scarce resources taxes the brain so much that it can perpetuate the cycle of poverty, new research shows.

The findings, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, indicate that an urgent need — making rent, getting money for food — tugs at the attention so much that it can reduce the brainpower of anyone who experiences it, regardless of innate intelligence or personality. As a result, many social welfare programs set up to help the poor could backfire by adding more complexity to their lives.

By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times

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