Neuroethics Publications

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Working Paper

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America





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Myopia for the future, especially in relation to economic decisions, has long been associated with low socioeconomic status (SES). Indeed, the use of the word “myopic” to describe the poor in this context dates back over a hundred years in economics [1]. Although we all tend to discount future rewards to some degree, for example preferring $100 today to a slightly larger sum in the future, higher levels of discounting are associated with lower levels of SES. As Jachimowics and colleagues [2] point out, the reasons for temporal discounting and its association with SES continue to be debated among psychologists, sociologists and economists. The authors advance our understanding of this association by demonstrating the influence of community trust on the discounting-SES relation. Their discovery, that low SES predisposes to high discounting mainly in circumstances of low community trust, illuminates the causes of steeper discounting among the poor, and importantly, highlights a potentially modifiable causal factor.

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© 2017 National Academy of Sciences.



Date Posted: 17 August 2018

This document has been peer reviewed.