All posts tagged: self-control

The Causes of Poverty (78): High Discount Rates and Lack of Delayed Gratification

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causes of poverty / economics / poverty

(source) You talk to conservatives about the reasons why poor people are poor, and chances are that the discussion turns to lack of self-control, high discount rates and inability to delay gratification. “High discount rates” means that things in the present or near future are viewed as having a higher payoff than things in the distant future. If you have a high discount rate, you focus on immediate gratification. This in turn shows up in low […]

The Causes of Poverty (71): Poverty of Willpower and of Self-Control, Revisited

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causes of poverty / economics / poverty

(source) Almost as old as the problem of poverty itself is the story that poverty is caused by insufficient self-control and willpower. Never mind that things may just as well be the other way around: poverty drains the will. And never mind that the most famous study cited by proponents of the willpower story is apparently misleading: For the past four decades, the “marshmallow test” has served as a classic experimental measure of children’s self-control: […]

The Causes of Poverty (59): Stress

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causes of poverty / economics / health / poverty

(source) Stress is often a consequence of poverty, but it can also make poverty worse. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have noted in Poor Economics that [t]here is a strong association between poverty and the level of cortisol produced by the body, an indicator of stress. Conversely, cortisol levels go down when households receive help. The children of the beneficiaries of PROGRESA, the Mexican cash transfer program [later renamed Oportunidades], have, for example, been found […]

The Causes of Poverty (46): Poverty of Willpower and of Self-Control

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causes of poverty / economics / poverty

(source) Conservatives often argue that the absence of certain mental goods such as self-control and willpower are to blame for the absence of material goods: poverty of the mind and of the will leads to material poverty. Now it seems that things are actually the other way around. Psychological experiments have shown that an individual’s capacity for exerting willpower [is] finite—that exerting willpower in one area makes us less able to exert it in other […]

What is Democracy? (46): The Boundary Problem

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democracy / globalization / justice / philosophy / what is democracy?

Most discussions about democracy take one thing for granted: that the composition of the group of people who (have to) govern themselves democratically is already fixed. The topics discussed are: how can these people govern themselves democratically, or more democratically? which procedures, institutions or voting systems should be used to guarantee the highest level of democracy? is representative democracy best, or should there be some kind of direct democracy? which are the prerequisites for an adequate […]