Can financial stress lower your IQ?

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Can financial stress lower your IQ?


An interesting study on the correlation between IQ and financial stress was recently reported. According to a paper published in Science Magazine, changes in financial situations result in clear differences on IQ tests. For example, sugar cane farmers in India took IQ tests four months before the harvest and then after the harvest, and the result after the harvest was 9 to 10 points higher than the pre-harvest score. Poverty not only brings psychological pressure and financial difficulties but also reduces some of the brain’s abilities, making it harder to overcome poverty.

However, Korea’s establishment has an especially large number of self-made success cases, and they tend to believe that poor people are not smart - rather than that poverty can lower your IQ. They spread the myth that those who are diligent and strong-willed can succeed. Of course, there was a time when everyone was poor and you could climb the ladder of success by working hard.

But that period is over, and we are now living in an age when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That’s what Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls the “shadow of the market economy” in his book, “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future.” Today, the axiom that “you can become rich if you try” is no longer valid.

I personally believed that the controversial debate over “economic democratization,” or economic justice, began from this reality check. However, related laws are focused on regulations and restrictions against the conglomerates - as if they are “retaliation against chaebol.”

The president took a step back and promised to correct toxic provisions, and industries demanded realistic and substantial legislation. This time, the president wants a special plan to increase the middle class to 70 percent of the entire population and to attain a 70 percent employment rate. She said that a creative economy was the only answer. But is the rhetoric of numbers and economic terms enough to attain economic democratization?

September has come. Two years ago, protestors who claimed to be the 99 percent occupied Wall Street, the heart of New York City’s capitalism. The confrontation between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent is the crooked face of today’s capitalism.

The U.S. president is also advocating restoration of the middle class. At this point, Stiglitz’s suggestion of “awakening the top 1 percent” may give us a clue. The wealthy need to realize that the fate of the top 1 percent is inseparable from the fate of the 99 percent. Whether they would live in an exclusive world within the society of isolation and despair or in the community of liberty and justice for all depends on the very awareness of their fate.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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