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The Not-So-Subtle Connection Between Stress and Poverty
People are poor because they are less intelligent than others, right? The poor are less educated than the rich because they are less intelligent, right? People are poor because they lack confidence and drive, right? Poor people do most tasks worse because they don’t want to put their energy into the task, right? FALSE, on all counts!
Stress obviously goes hand in hand with poverty, but the rich also care about money. The difference is that the poor don’t just care about money. Continued and continued poverty creates a stressful environment in which conflict, food insecurity, violence, and housing worries, among many others, arise because of stress, but also fuel stress even more. Thus, the whole environment of poverty perpetuates stress, which generates other issues, which makes it more difficult to get out of poverty.
This study, conducted by the UNICEF Office of Research, in June 2016, reports that providing short-term aid in the form of cash transfers does not reduce perceived stress, although it improves economic security. . Thus, it is clear that it is the environment of poverty that perpetuates stress and exacerbates related problems and that the solution is not as simple as quick money, if the long term perspective of the subject is still that of poverty.
But then, is the root of the problem that people are poor primarily because they are less capable and intelligent than others? In fact, the opposite may be true.
According to Alice Walton, writing in the University of Chicago business school journal, The Chicago Booth Review, being poor can lower your IQ by 13 points.
A young man, a few decades ago, from a very poor background, had to pass his Mensa qualification tests. In the weeks leading up to the test, in addition to living a life of deprivation, his mother and father both suffered from fatal illnesses, he was forced to leave the house he grew up in, he was called in to help a neighbor struggling with a fire that threatened his home and the young man had used the last of his funds for the month to pay for short-term accommodation. The least we can say is that he was stressed. He scored 138 on the Mensa test, high enough to qualify for membership.
Two years later, he again wrote an IQ test. He scored 165. That’s a huge difference, rarely seen in intelligence tests. Yet the only factor that had changed was that now her income was stable and reasonable and the other stressors in her life had dissipated.
Poverty lowers IQ, not the other way around.
There is no doubt that not having a decent education is very strongly correlated with earning less money in the workplace. But being poor also makes it extremely difficult to realize one’s academic potential.
There are myriad stories of people being forced to leave school early to support their families. Others cite the lack of money to pay tuition as the reason why they did not pursue post-secondary studies. It’s not that these people don’t want an education. It is that they cannot find the economic means to obtain one and, in turn, remain mired in poverty.
Yet even from primary to secondary, performance levels among those from a lower socioeconomic class lag behind those of their classmates from more affluent backgrounds. It challenges the belief of many outside the weak SEC that poverty implies moral failure. Performance suffers because the person is preoccupied with more immediate concerns. Try mental math when you’re chased down the street by an angry dog! Your thoughts are hardly on anything other than this immediate moment.
Like any success, getting out of poverty requires confidence. in the belief that, first, you can do it and second, that it is sustainable. Living in poverty tends to deprive people of the ability to plan for a better future. The day-to-day nature of existence at the bottom of the SEC robs people of the ability to take a long-term perspective. The University of Oxford and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report that in the face of poverty, people find it much more difficult to make decisions, doubt their choices and have shortened attention spans. That is to say, the moment encroaches on the future.
Most governments in the Western world have introduced tax-exempt investment plans and retirement savings plan options to allow the poorest to set aside their future, but these plans are totally unrealistic. Saving anything for tomorrow is unreasonable when today’s needs are far from being met. Consequently, a very small portion of people in the lowest socio-economic group even consider retirement and contingent savings.
This pushes them even further behind their more affluent counterparts, which in turn impacts their confidence, ability to focus on development and growth, and forces them to adopt the main survival channel for the more poor among the poor: day-to-day existence. .
It’s not that the poor don’t want better opportunities or hope to succeed and grow. It’s more that they’re trapped in an environment that undermines the ability to stay afloat, let alone thrive. They may have had the ability, the intelligence and the confidence to get ahead, but day-to-day poverty robs them of those skills and we, in turn, lose because hordes of people who, given the opportunity, could make a very significant contribution in ways, to the world around them.
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