Poverty has its share of side effects too

The Washington Post published the results of a fascinating, yet also disturbing, study that links the stress that living in poverty causes with decreased cognitive development.

For the new study, [Cornell University professor] Evans and a colleague rated the level of stress each child experienced using a scale known as "allostatic load." The score was based on the results of tests the children were given when they were ages 9 and 13 to measure their levels of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine, as well as their blood pressure and body mass index.

When the researchers analyzed the relationships among how long the children lived in poverty, their allostatic load and their later working memory, they found a clear relationship: The longer they lived in poverty, the higher their allostatic load and the lower they tended to score on working-memory tests. Those who spent their entire childhood in poverty scored about 20 percent lower on working memory than those who were never poor, Evans said.

"The greater proportion of your childhood that your family spent in poverty, the poorer your working memory, and that link is largely explained by this chronic physiologic stress," Evans said. "We put these things together and can say the reason we get this link between poverty and deficits in working memory is this chronic elevated stress."
This is beyond depressing. Children living in poverty become more stressed about their well-being, which negatively affects their memory, causing them to perform more poorly in school, which makes them less attractive candidates to go to college, leading to them being less qualified for higher paying secure jobs, pushing them right back into poverty...ugh, the cycle is just sick.

Clearly the response to this should be to organize a protest over the raising of the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 39.6%.

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