The Psychology and Economics of Poverty (PEP) Initiative represents a new research agenda exploring the cognitive and behavioral effects of poverty, by cultivating a tight-knit community of development economists, cognitive and social psychologists, and other scientists working on poverty reduction. The initiative will strengthen a nascent community of practice by: coordinating cross-disciplinary lab meetings and a reading group with faculty and students from UC Berkeley, other UCs, Stanford University, and additional West Coast universities; an annual international conference focusing attention on how poverty interacts with cognition, brain development, behavior, and human welfare; and supporting exploratory and pilot research as well as larger-scale empirical research studies proposed by members of the community to pursue new lines of inquiry. The ultimate goal of the PEP initiative is to drive original interdisciplinary research on how poverty affects cognition, health, and well-being, toward the end of positively influencing social and economic development programming on a large scale. Insights from the PEP initiative have the potential to help both the public and private sectors with designing and targeting interventions that effectively increase welfare for the world’s poor.
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