Discussion Papers, Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research 294
In this paper, I explore in an overlapping generations framework, a mechanism motivating a neurobiological poverty trap. Poverty causes stress and depression in individuals susceptible to depression. Poor and depressed individuals discount the future at a higher rate and invest less in the human capital of their children than mentally healthy or rich individuals. This gene-environment interaction generates a vicious cycle in which poor individuals inherit not only susceptibility to depression but also stress and poverty. I show that a successful one-time intervention has the power to permanently eliminate the neurobiological poverty trap.
child investment development depression discounting intergenerational transmission gene-environment interaction