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Poverty and Cognitive Function

Poverty and Cognitive Function

(p.57) 2 Poverty and Cognitive Function
The Economics of Poverty Traps
Emma Boswell DeanFrank SchilbachHeather Schofield
University of Chicago Press

This paper is a primer for economists interested in the relationship between poverty and cognitive function. We begin by discussing a set of underlying aspects of cognitive function relevant to economic decision-making-attention, inhibitory control, memory, and higherorder cognitive functions-including descriptions of validated tasks to measure each of these areas. Next, we review literature that investigates channels through which poverty might impact cognitive function and economic behavior, by discussing already existing knowledge as well as less well-researched areas that warrant further exploration. We then highlight ways in which the different aspects of cognitive function may impact economic outcomes, discussing both theoretical models and empirical evidence. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of open research questions and directions for future research.

Keywords:   poverty, cognitive function, decision-making, productivity, attention, memory, inhibitory control

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