Research / BFI Working PaperJun 26, 2023

Scarcity and Inattention

Information can increase the quality of decision making. However, some individuals might systematically be less likely to pay attention to such information. Previous research suggests that a “scarcity mindset” focuses attention on immediate needs, leaving less cognitive bandwidth for attending to other information. In this article, we examine the relationship between inattention to information and two types of scarcity – financial and social. We use survey data collected shortly after the onset of the pandemic from 345 low-income parents and from the directors of the 11 preschools attended by the children of these parents. To measure inattention, we compare what information parents report receiving from the school with the information schools report sending. We measured financial scarcity, i.e., a self-report of not having enough money to make ends meet, and social scarcity, i.e., a self-report of loneliness. We find that both types of scarcity are significantly, positively, and independently associated with inattention.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Mar 30, 2023

Boosting Parent-Child Math Engagement and Preschool Children’s Math Skills: Evidence from an RCT with Low-Income Families

Susan Mayer, Ariel Kalil, William Delgado, Haoxuan Liu, Derek Rury, Rohen Shah
Topics:  Early Childhood Education
BFI Working Paper May 2, 2022

Investing in Early Childhood Development in Preschool and at Home

Greg Duncan, Ariel Kalil, Magne Mogstad, Mari Rege
Topics:  Early Childhood Education
BFI Working Paper Feb 12, 2024

Making a Song and Dance About It: The Effectiveness of Teaching Children Vocabulary with Animated Music Videos

Ariel Kalil, Susan Mayer, Philip Oreopoulos, Rohen Shah
Topics:  Early Childhood Education