• tomefries

Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shapir

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Summary: Most of us face some kind of scarcity, whether it be money, time, or even when dieting. What we may not realize, though, is that scarcity can change the way we think and may lead to poor decisions.

Review: Think about the last time you had too much to do with not enough time, were struggling financially when a sudden expense comes up, or decided to go on that diet a few days before your co-workers decide to all become pastry chefs and bring in sweets to share with the office. Did your schedule, that expense, or those sweets keep popping into your mind or were you able to concentrate?

I, like so many, was raised to believe that the poor were poor for a reason: personal deficits. Politicians and family at the holidays still spout the same, tired rhetoric about welfare recipients being lazy or cheating the system and those who cave to temptation as weak. Even though most of us have made reckless decisions and are one disaster away from poverty. Scarcity takes a look at the cognitive reasons that explain these behaviors.

Scarcity uses science, research, and vignettes to break down and explain how poverty and other forms of scarcity affect our daily lives and keeps us trapped. Mullainathan and Shafir do a great job at making complex concepts easy to understand. I think the only complaint is that it did feel a bit repetitive at times.

This book is perfect and should be on the must-read list for anyone working with people who live in poverty and those who are strapped for time (although maybe they should consider the audiobook).


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