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The duality of poverty: a replication of Mani et al. (2013) in Colombia

Felipe González-Arango (), Javier Corredor, María Angélica López-Ardila, María Camila Contreras-González, Juan Herrera-Santofimio and Jhonathan Jared González
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Javier Corredor: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
María Angélica López-Ardila: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
María Camila Contreras-González: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Juan Herrera-Santofimio: Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Jhonathan Jared González: Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Theory and Decision, 2022, vol. 92, issue 1, No 3, 39-73

Abstract: Abstract Scarcity acts as a mental burden that disrupts how people process information and make decisions (Mullainathan and Shafir in Scarcity: Why having too little means so much. Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2013; Mani et al. Science 342:976–980, 2013). In this study, we replicated Mani et al.’s (Science 342:976–980, 2013) experimental design to explore whether scarcity also taxes Colombian high school students’ mental bandwidth. In a lab-in-the-field experiment, we tested how 417 high school students from high and low socioeconomic status (SES) in Bogotá, Colombia, responded to different scarcity situations. Students were first presented with hypothetical scenarios of harsh or soft scarcity. Next, participants had to solve a series of tasks that measured higher cognitive functions (i.e. Raven’s Progressive Matrices, Cognitive Reflection Task and questions to assess their Delay Discounting value) and had to explain how they would solve the scarcity situation. As opposed to Mani et al. (Science 342:976–980, 2013), we did not find that scarcity taxed individuals’ mental bandwidth, neither their cognitive nor executive functions. We found that low-SES individuals, under the harsh scarcity condition, displayed more empathic attributes than high-SES individuals. Taken together, the results of this study show the importance of replication in different cultures and environments.

Keywords: Scarcity theory; Replication; Poverty; Cognitive impairment; Behavioral economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11238-021-09836-x

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